Authors, illustrators and brothers Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey rocketed onto the children's literature scene with their gentle and heartwarming picture book The Old Truck. In The Old Boat, the brothers/creators once again use the inspiration of the persevering women in their lives to tell a heartfelt, moving story that spans generations.
"Off a small island, an old boat rode the tide." The first spread shows an adult and a child--both brown-skinned with hats and big smiles--floating atop an ocean full of fish near the shore of an island. The next spread shows both figures, aged, driving the boat farther from the island, which is now surrounded by garbage. As the sailors grow older, they ride the tide "first shallow./ Then deep./ Then deeper." Eventually, the no-longer-a-child fishes alone: "Far from home, the old boat was cold/ and lonely/ and lost." As with The Old Truck, the child-to-adult in The Old Boat ultimately finds their way and makes changes back home, "First shallow./ Then deep./ Then deeper." Unlike in The Old Truck, though, the positive changes they make include not upgrading the boat but instead allowing it to slowly turn into a reef--"an old boat was home."
The Pumphreys created the art using more than 300 handmade stamps composed and colored digitally. Their use of white space is effective, allowing each brightly colored stamp and background to shine on the page. At first, this appears natural, but as the garbage builds up, the pages become overly filled, forcing the eye to settle on the boat as the only place of calm consistency. The Old Boat is a picture book with simple, accessible text, an eye-catching palette and a universal message that would be perfect for both solo exploration and a story time read. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness