If you’ve been following me for any bit of time at all, you have probably picked up on the fact that we LOVE a good friendship story in this house… Especially a good friendship story with a repeated refrain that children can grasp and apply to their own lives! We fell in love with To the Sea by Cale Atkinson (@2dcale ) a year and a half ago, and it’s been requested at least weekly, if not more, ever since then.
To the Sea tells the story of Tim, who often feels unnoticed at school, until he meets an unexpected friend, a whale named Sam. Sam had taken a “wrong turn” and ended up stuck outside of Tim’s school, far away from his home in the sea. The power of simply “noticing” others resonates throughout the rest of the story, and the phrases, “I see you,” “It’s not every day you meet a friend,” and “Friends don’t let friends down” are repeated throughout the book.
The illustrations in To the Sea, also done by Atkinson, are just as powerful as the simple text. Though the entire book is illustrated in shades of blue, green, and orange (with a bit of while here and there), Atkinson manages to change the emotional tone of the pictures, but still keep the same color palette, when the climax hits and the emotional state of the characters changes.
So why do we love To the Sea? We love the unique feel of the illustrations and their eye-catching color palette. We love rooting Tim and Sam on as they find each other, and cheering for Tim as he helps Sam find his way home. But most importantly, we love the messages around friendship. The importance of feeling noticed, of noticing others, of keeping promises, of helping friends— these are wonderful conversation points for reading this book with children of all ages.
Recommended for ages 3-5, but given the unique colors and short simple texts, this works well for younger children. To the Sea could also be read with older children during m social-emotional lessons on friendship.
If you liked this, check out:
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
Brave Enough for Two by Jonathan Voss
Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon
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