In this warm story about a cold place (a “sleepy coastal town far in the north”), a boy named Seb misses the sun, which is altogether absent during the winter. Seb loves to find treasures on the shore, like washed-up bottles, and he wants to bring the sun to his town, if only briefly.
Seb formulates a plan and gathers supplies from his neighbors, and he and his pet walrus row out to sea. After attaching some rope, yarn and fishing line to a bucket, Seb hurls it across the water, well past the edges of the page and into the next spread. Not seeing any immediate results, Seb falls asleep in the boat and wakes to his bucket filled with sunlight. He carefully pours it into the empty bottles he’s collected at the beach and returns home to distribute his little vessels of sunshine to all of his neighbors.
It would be hard to keep such a dark, shadowy palette interesting, but author-illustrator Jami Gigot uses a light touch (so to speak)—Northern lights, white snows and the lights of the town illuminate the pages. Gigot’s detailed drawings of Seb’s neighbors at work are the heart of the tale. Readers grow to care for them as Seb does. His impressive bucket toss on the water provides a funny, hyperbolic moment of charm in an otherwise dark story. How this considerate boy catches the sunlight is a mystery to readers, Gigot leaves to our imagination the moment in which the bucket lands. But what matters is that Seb cared enough about his community to do so.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.