Author: Peter Sis
Illustrator: Peter Sis
Target Ages: 4-8
Genre: Magic Realism
A boy who love adventure.
A mysterious ocean journey.
A remote island wilderness.
Discover what surprises await…
My friends and I love adventure.
We play pirates all the time. Together, we rule the high seas!
The narrative begins with a collage of small, but lively pictures of a group of boys on imaginative pirate adventures. From the start a bit of fantasy mingles in with the reality. In some illustrations, the reality is shown (boys dressed as pirates in the tub) while in others their fantasies begin to take over (they are sailing down a river in their own pirate “ship” with their city in the backdrop).
The illustrations shift to full pages as the main event is announced: a school costume party. Peter and his friends are excited to attend dressed as pirates. However, the party does not last long for Peter. He flees home to the solace of his room after being teased by his friends.
The pictures become grand two-page spreads as Peter is carried away into a feverish dreamland—a mingling of his favorite novel (Robinson Crusoe) with his real experience. In his dream world, he is surviving alone on a remote island. Through the literary and imaginative occurrence, he transforms into a more competent and courage person in reality. Sis illustrates the role that literature has on how children see themselves as they read and the vital role books have on character development.
With only minimal words on each page, the primary narrative is discovered through the lush watercolor illustrations. As Peter learns to survive on his own, exotic animals and foliage as well as his busy activities illustrate the sights and sounds of his fantasy world. A combination of aerial views and close-up snapshots transport the readers into his grand and intimate journey.
His dream world slowly morphs back into reality as pirates (his friends) invade his island adventure (his bedroom). The illustrations reflect this change by shifting back to one page, smaller views of the world. There is a satisfying ending as his friends apologize for teasing him and ask to learn more about his favorite adventurer (Robinson Crusoe).
An added charm of the story comes from the author’s note sharing the incident from his childhood that inspired the book.
Children will empathize with Peter’s experiences playing imaginatively and dealing with teasing. The fantastic elements elevate the story to a brilliant and engaging read.
Ideas for Extension Activities at Home or Lesson Plans for Teachers:
- Literature: Read a children’s version of Robinson Crusoe and/or other adventure stories.
- Character Development: Discuss the importance of accepting individual differences, building strong friendships, and dealing with teasing.
- Art: Have students create their own fantasy island with a diorama or draw their island on poster board.
- Science: Discuss animals and plants commonly found on tropical islands.
- Social Studies: Learn about basic survival techniques from books, such as The Dangerous Book for Boys or Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide to Wilderness Survival.