Blue Floats Away

Children's literature blogger, podcaster, elementary school librarian and author Travis Jonker follows up his debut picture book, The Very Last Castle, with a title that sneakily teaches as it enchants. Blue Floats Away, illustrated by Grant Snider (What Color Is Night), is a full reenactment of the water cycle through one inquisitive and brave iceberg's travels around the planet.

"Little Blue lived near the North Pole with his parents. They were close." But one day, "CRACK--Blue was suddenly on his own, floating away." There isn't much a child glacier separated from his parents can do other than follow the tide. And that is exactly what Blue does. He begins to see "new things/ Beautiful things." He learns from his new friends about "wind and ocean currents. Things that could get him home." However, the farther south Blue floats, the hotter it gets and the smaller he shrinks. Until... "Blue mixed with the ocean water, evaporated, condensed, and was transformed." As a cloud, enterprising Blue brings himself back to his parents. "Were they ever surprised."

Jonker's simple language makes this picture book an excellent read-aloud that is also approachable for the four- to six-year-old set, while his author's note ages the book up for kids 6-8 by describing the water cycle, explaining that "polar ice is in real trouble" and listing ideas to help save the planet. Snider's use of artistic mediums children will know intimately--cut paper, colored pencil, ink--makes the book all the more friendly to young readers. Blue's drawn-on smiley face and cut-paper backgrounds offer children a chance to make their own Blue Floats Away-style stories, perhaps even with messages as important as Jonker and Snider's. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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