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 tree-like 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 hoard, 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.
— Julia Smith, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW