Story Boat by Kyo Maclear, Illus. by Rashin Kheiriyeh

Review by Lauren Hathaway

Tundra, Penguin Random House, 4 February 2020

40 pages, hardcover, $21.99 CAD, 978-0-73526-359-8

Ages 3-7. Grades Pre K-2

Picture Book

Story Boat is an absorbing and timely picture book that explores the refugee experience through the eyes and imagination of a child. 

The story opens as a group of migrants march toward an unknown destination. One child asks another what “here” is. The answer to that simple question – “here” is a small cup, a blanket, or even a lamp – helps carry the children through their journey and keep them connected to their home and to each other.

Together, Kyo Maclear and Rashin Kheiriyeh create the closest thing to magic: a story that captivates and inspires readers. Maclear’s words are poetic and capture the imaginative quality of childhood. Meanwhile, Kheiriyeh’s textured illustrations ground the words to reality—a reality that is full of hope and colour but also with fear and uncertainty, especially for refugees and migrants. Together, the words and images tell a rich and nuanced story that can serve as a mirror, window, or sliding glass door for readers, depending on who the reader is. Although its target audience may be readers aged 3-7, the book could easily be taught using a cross-curricular approach in elementary, middle school, and even high school classrooms.  

Though published for children, Story Boat will touch readers of all ages with its delicate portrayal of two children holding onto home even in the most trying of circumstances.  

Story Boat by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh will be out February 4, 2020.

Lauren holds an M.A. in Children’s Literature from the University of British Columbia and a B.A. in English from Fordham University. She regularly reviews children’s books for School Library Journal and loves sharing books with her eight nieces and nephews back home in Arizona. 

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