Island Book by Evan Dahm

Sola lives on a small island with other villagers who fear the Monster. It once came to the island and destroyed much of the settlement, but Sola was not afraid. She stood there and silently communicated with the beast. Now sailors take daily trips out into the ocean to look for it and keep the rest of the community safe. And Sola is cursed; the rest of her people shame her and think she is different because of her relationship with the Monster.

As dusk begins to settle, Sola escapes the confines of the island. She sails away to look for the ‘other’ and finds three new islands with much different relationships with the mystical Monster. Some fear, some worship, and others see it as a source of balance in the world. Sola picks up a new crew member at each stop and the journey continues to find the missing link.

The journey and the destination. The object of desire and the scourge of fear. What is The Monster? And what is the point of this book? I think the themes are there, but there are no answers wrapped in bows. A reader searching for easy last-page answers needs to move on, but one who wants a thoughtful mystery that goes beyond the shutting of the book will find some joy here.

I liked the simplicity of the artwork and the various points of view Dahm draws in the scenes. These creatures look somewhere between Fraggles, Muppets, and Ninja Turtles. (I like all three!) A young person will be entranced by the epic scale of the adventure and an older reader will be able to have some deep conversations with his or her child.

Enjoyable for the art, the story, and the vast and thoughtful destination.

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