Ocean Meets Sky
Eric & Terry Fan
Lincoln Children’s Books
Everything about this, the second Fan Brothers picture book, is absolutely superb: the jacket, the cover, the endpapers, the paper used and of course, the story and illustrations.
It’s a magical tale of young Finn who, inspired by memories of his grandfather’s sayings, his voice, and his stories – stories of a far distant place where ocean and sky meet – on what would have been his ninetieth birthday, builds a boat in his honour.
Then, imagination fuelled by those stories, the boy sets off on an amazing dream of a voyage. A voyage aided by a huge golden fish that tells him it knows of the place he seeks: “It’s high and low … It’s up and down and very far.” and offers to show the way.
The journey takes Finn through such wondrous places as the Library Islands populated by bibliophile birds; (love that there’s a copy of The Night Gardener tucked in one of the piles of books)
then, after landing to explore an island of giant shells, they travel onwards crossing a sea of dancing jellyfish until eventually they reach their destination, perhaps,
whereupon the boat lifts towards the sky (or had the water fallen away?) and the boy drifts through starry, steampunkish spreads whereon hot air balloons, zeppelins, submarines, a giant whale, float following the fish towards the full moon. There, a transformation takes place.
Smiling back at him benevolently, illuminating his farewell, is a face Finn knows so well.
Then comes a voice summoning him home from his dreaming. It’s his mother calling him (with echoes of Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are) for dinner– Grandpa’s favourite dumplings.
The Finn Brothers vision of eternity is, in this affecting story, one that offers a bereft boy some healing from his sadness, leaving him able to face forwards, full of wonder. ‘It had been a good day for sailing.’
Elegant scenes grace every spread providing much to explore: observant readers/listeners will notice that an early picture of Grandpa’s room is filled with treasured objects that become part of the dream sequence.