Monday, October 15, 2018

Review - Yellow Kayak

Yellow Kayak
by Nina Laden
illustrated by Melissa Castrillón
Date: 2018
Publisher: Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

A child and his beloved best friend go on a grand sea adventure in this magical picture book by the author and artist who created If I Had a Little Dream.

You just never know what a new day will hold if you are brave enough to find out. On one quiet afternoon, a boy and his special friend’s unexpected adventure bring joy and excitement and sights never imagined. And the best part of any adventure is returning home with stories to tell and you best friend at your side.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

The cover drew me in, but unfortunately, that's about the only thing I liked about this book.

Yes, the illustrations are cute. But I have a big problem with them: they don't match the text on multiple occasions! And you just know that kids are going to notice something like that. It starts on the very first page with the text:

Yellow kayak.
Blue sky.
Paddle swiftly.
Wave good-bye.

Now, what colour does the sky appear to you? Because it looks pink to me.

I suppose you could argue that the turquoise stuff is the sky, but I interpreted that as clouds... and I'd be surprised if I was the only one who did.

Later in the book, it happens again:

Yellow kayak.
Gray sky.
Paddle carefully.
Seagulls cry.

This time, it's even more confusing, as grey isn't even in the colour palette... but you could perhaps argue that, this time, the sky is navy:

There are also some elements that I found confusing (on the second page, there's a picture of what looks like a beached whale, which horrified me at first; it took a few seconds of looking to realize it was a badly drawn seal). At one point, there's a smiling shark below the boat, and neither the boy nor his friend seem particularly worried (in fact, the giraffe's sticking his head below the surface!)... but then, when some whales come along, they're suddenly in danger:

Hulking monsters.
Spray blows.
Circle round.
Danger grows.

Hulking monsters? Danger? Is this some sort of pro-whaling propaganda, or has the author just come off of reading Moby Dick?

And then there's the whole ridiculous premise, with a boy and his giraffe friend going off by themselves in a boat (arguably not a kayak, since they use one single-bladed paddle, while most kayakers use a double-bladed one). Who lets their kid go off in a boat by themselves (I'm assuming the giraffe is imaginary because... well, why would there be a giraffe in the Pacific Northwest?) when there's a storm coming, and doesn't call the Coast Guard when they don't return home that night? There isn't even anyone waiting for them when they return (despite one of the first lines of the book, which talks about waving goodbye). It's just too unbelievable.

This book is going to make kids ask a lot of questions, but that's probably going to be more annoying than beneficial. And I wouldn't blame them one bit; so much about this book makes no sense, so you're left with no choice but to say, "What?!"

Premise: 1/5
Meter: 3/5
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 1.86 out of 5

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