The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater, illustrated by the Fan Brothers

Published by Beach Lane Books

Summary:  Marco is a fox who wonders many things about the world.  He tries asking other foxes, but no one seems to think his questions are important, never mind having any actual answers.  When an antlered ship arrives at the harbor near his house, Marco goes down to see it, and meets the three deer who have come looking for a crew.  The young fox volunteers, along with a flock of pigeons, and the animals set sail for adventure.  They’re excited, but the voyage proves difficult, as they deal with storms, pirates, and pigeons who don’t like to work.  But slowly, friendships are formed, and after discovering one island, the whole crew decides to move on to further adventures.  48 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Unquestionably a Caldecott contender, with illustrations that are both gorgeous and humorous (check out the pigeons playing checkers instead of working).  The story is a gentle celebration of both curiosity and friendship.

Cons:  Those pirates are too cute to really seem ferocious.

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