Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, July 2, 2015

From The Deep A Deeper Friendship

The best time to search for treasure is in the spring.  With the extremely cold winters and lower water levels, more area freezes.  The ice dredges up gems from the rocky and sandy bottom of Lake Michigan. Petoskey stones are plentiful.

The closest I have come to discovering living riches are glimpses of white-tailed deer splashing in the waves, seagulls looking for free food and drifting and diving ducks.  To the Sea (Disney Hyperion, June 2, 2015) written and illustrated by Cale Atkinson explores being in the moment.  To find someone who is not used to being seen by others changes everything for both beings.

This is Tim.  

It's raining as Tim walks down the steps after school is out for the day.  At the bottom of the steps he spies Sam.  Sam is a blue whale who has lost his way.

Tim is the only one to notice Sam.  He knows what it's like to feel invisible.  They're both happy to spot each other.

Tim understands whales like water so he goes back inside his classroom to get a glass of water for Sam.  The other students don't say a word to him but it doesn't bother him anymore.  Sam sees him.

Tim wants to be Sam's friend and Sam wants to be Tim's friend.  Sam explains to Tim about not knowing how to get back to the sea.  Tim makes a promise before he heads home.

Tim can think of nothing but Sam that evening.  He has to figure out a way to help his new friend.  Sam is thrilled when Tim returns to him the next day, plans in hand.  Of the three ideas, the duo settles on the third.

Tim is determined to keep his vow to Sam.  He works and works and works.  Sam holds on and holds on and holds on.  The two best buddies are a blur as they rush toward the sea. Yikes!  Someone else is lost.  Will they be found?

Cale Atkinson uses words, easily understood words, which ring true to his intended audience.  The short sentences direct the slow easy pace.  They make the unbelievable seem as right as rain.  Atkinson combines his narrative with the comfortable conversations between Tim and Sam.  The straight-to-the- heart feeling of some of his sentences will have readers nodding in agreement.  Here is one of them.

They both felt
better knowing
they weren't 

The bright limited color palette, the mix of vibrant oranges with greens, blues and black, seen on the dust jacket is the reader's first clue to the uplifting story to be found within the pages.  And it's not every day you see a little guy riding on the head of a blue whale.  On the back, to the left, we see Tim working as hard as he can to get Sam back to the sea.

The book case is a marvelous illustration from left to right of Tim standing in front of Sam outside the school building in the rain.  They are both as happy as can be.  The opening and closing endpapers are done in the warm orange with a lighter hue for the gathering of whales featured.  I wonder what the name of the one in glasses is.

Crossing the gutter from page edge to page edge is the title visual.  We see the school on the left with the windows shining with light in the rain, a swing set and Tim looking at the stranded Sam.  The verso and first page is a close up of Tim walking out of school; the hood on his rain coat up.

Alternating between single page visuals and two page images, Cale Atkinson brings us gently into the meeting of Tim and Sam building emotion with each page turn.  Body posture and those dark eyes heighten the mood.  Assigning the paler orange, except on the orange pages, as the text color is perfect.  When Tim is showing Sam his plans for getting him to the sea, the childlike drawings are absolutely joyful.

One of my many favorite illustrations is on a single page.  Tim is returning home after he has met Sam.  He leaves a light on at school so it shines on Sam all night.  Two glasses of water, a rubber ducky and a goldfish in a bowl are there to make Sam feel loved.  Sam and the building are behind Tim who has been placed at the bottom of the page.  His face is glowing with happiness as he looks right at the reader.

Delightful as a read aloud and cozy as a snuggly blanket when you read it by yourself, To the Sea written and illustrated by Cale Atkinson is a splendid debut work.  You can use it with titles on friendship, titles about the sea or as a reader's theater.  Read this often.  Share it as much as you can.

To learn more about Cale Atkinson follow the links attached to his name to access his website and his Tumblr pages.  This tweet reveals even more goodies about this title thanks to Cale Atkinson.

Next be sure to visit Watch. Connect. Read. hosted by teacher librarian extraordinaire John Schumacher.  He premieres the book trailer and chats with Cale Atkinson about this book.  There is artwork to enjoy too!  More artwork and an interview are featured on Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher.


  1. Cale is THE. BEST! We had a great chat on Let's Get Busy (http://lgbpodcast.blogspot.com/2015/06/cale-atkinson-ep-160.html) and I felt like that was a book where you could really see Cale's heart on the page. Spectacular stuff!

    1. Thank you Matthew! I saw the podcast in my search feed and meant to add it. Happy Friday to you and your family!