Reading/Interest Level: Preschool
Author: Emilie Boon
Illustrator: Emilie Boon
Publisher: Candlewick Press
A new home for Ella, her mother, and her plush toy, Monkey, awaits across the sea. But first they must leave everything they know behind and ride an ocean liner full of unfamiliar people and activities. Ella and Monkey feel very sad at first and don’t even want to play. When a big storm tosses the ship back and forth, the two buddies realize they can chase away their fear by drawing pictures—pictures of the sun, to be exact. As they distribute the artwork to other passengers they have met on the ship, Ella and Monkey cheer up and so does everyone else! By the time the waters calm down and the ship arrives in New York, Ella and Monkey are excited to say “hello” to Ella’s papa as well as all the new adventures they are sure to have.
Ella & Monkey at Sea addresses a very relevant topic for children in today’s world: the emotions accompanying changes, especially changes involving moving and experiencing new places. The book’s overall message seems to be that it’s okay to feel sad about change, but that anyone can make the best out of scary and unfamiliar situations. The book provides, in Ella, a character for today’s frequently moving and immigrating children to empathize with and one that can help children who haven’t had similar experiences sympathize with children they know who have. Accompanied by bright, charming watercolor illustrations, the book’s message sheds light on the situations and feelings similar to those of more and more children in the world. This book would be excellent as a read-aloud for preschoolers as they learn to interact with other children from diverse backgrounds and become more aware of the transitory nature of locale for many families in the twenty-first century.