Story Boat begins very simply, with the words, “Here we are.” An unnamed young girl and her little brother have been forced to leave their home in search of safety. They travel with a group of refugees through rain and cold, in a landscape that is sometimes somber, other times hopeful. As the group journeys from place to place, “here” constantly changes. The young girl attempts to explain and comfort her little brother by pointing out what doesn’t change: the cups they hold, the blanket that keeps them cozy, a bright lamp, a flower and, of course, the stories they tell and the pictures they draw. Both solid and magical, these elements help sustain the children until their arrival in a new, promising here—a new home.
Acclaimed illustrator Rashin Kheiriyeh employs grays, blues and varyingly soft and fiery shades of coral to create their world as well as their flights of fancy. Her images have a timeless, folktale quality that illuminates Maclear’s prose, which meditates poetically on the meanings of here and home and explores the power of imagination and empathy. Luminous and thought-provoking, Story Boat contains deep layers of meaning that are sure to spark conversations from young readers.