Bound To Stay Bound

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Booklist - 06/01/2017 *Starred Review* The Fan brothers bring their arresting artistry, first seen in The Night Gardener (2016), to Slater’s tale of Marco, an inquisitive fox searching for answers in the wider world. Marco’s rather philosophical mind is teeming with questions: Why don’t trees ever talk? How deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea? The unexpected arrival of a large ship—adorned with a magnificent masthead of a stag’s treelike antlers—offers Marco the chance to seek out the answers his fellow foxes can’t provide. Marco joins the ship’s deer crew, along with a flock of adventurous pigeons, and the animals set sail for Sweet Tree Island. Their journey is fraught with stormy seas, paltry meals, sharp rocks, and a pirate horde, but once safely on the island, Marco gains some insight at last. Finely detailed illustrations in graphite and ballpoint pen evoke the dramatic moments of Slater’s story as effectively as the contemplative, such as when turbulent green-gray seas give way to a star-studded sky, or in the peachy sunset washing over Marco and his new friends. Young readers will revel in the whimsical touches, like the peg-legged pigeon sailor and the imaginative map gracing the book’s endpapers. This gorgeous, eye-opening adventure is an engrossing reading experience that proudly touts curiosity and finding friendship in kindred spirits. - Copyright 2017 Booklist.

School Library Journal - 09/01/2017 K-Gr 2—A fox sets sail in search of answers to questions about life, the universe, and everything in this picture book fantasy. Marco the fox wonders about many things, but the other foxes are more concerned with chicken soup than with philosophy. When an antlered ship appears, captained by deer traveling to an island of "tall, sweet grass and short, sweet trees," Marco seizes the opportunity to seek out other foxes who may have answers. The crew sails across treacherous seas, triumphing over sharp rocks and fierce pirates before arriving safely at Sweet Tree Island. Alas, there are no foxes to be found, and Marco's travels have only yielded more questions. Yet, he also has new friends and the chance for further adventures—perhaps that is enough. Slater's adventure narrative is an epic journey with a classic feel, perfectly scaled for a picture-book audience. The straightforward text is lyrical, rhythmic, and begs to be read aloud. Graphite-and-pen illustrations by the Fan Brothers depict expressive, realistically drawn animals sporting the occasional hat or bandanna. As the distinctive prow of the antlered ship sails through ethereal seascapes, young audiences can follow its path through the detailed maps included on the endpapers. VERDICT Marco's discovery that the world is full of questions, but not always answers, is at once profound and entirely accessible to young audiences. Make this gently thrilling celebration of life's big questions a first-purchase.—Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

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