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The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater
Illustrated by The Fan Brothers.
Published 2017 by Simon & Schuster
‘The Antlered Ship’ was released in 2017 but I’ve only just come across it and I am so pleased that I have as it is a stunning book quickly becoming a firm favourite.
I have long thought that the best books, being a fan of fantasy novels, start with a map. The endpapers of this book certainly do not disappoint.
I love chatting about maps like this with students and the place names on this one will really capture their imagination.
‘The Antlered Ship’ has a fox, Marco, as its hero. Marco’s head is filled with questions to which he cannot find an answer. The questions are deep and concern matters of the universe that woodland animals just do not have the knowledge or inclination to answer. He wonders why trees can’t talk, why some songs make you happy and some make you sad. All of these questions and more fill up Marco’s day so when the opportunity arises for him to head off into the big wide world aboard ‘The Antlered Ship’ he jumps at the chance to explore and to try and find the answers to his ponderings, he thinks that if he finds some more foxes then they will be able to furnish him with the answers.
Unfortunately for the crew of the ship, the seas are rough the skies are filled with storms. The voyage is not the splendorous adventure that they had imagined. The crew of deer, foxes and pigeons do not make the best sailors but they learn to make the most of it and after looking at the charts together. They decide to head for ‘Sweet Tree Island.’
On the journey they meet, battle and chase off a motley crew of pirates. It is this image that I think is fantastic and would inspire some great descriptive writing from students.
Eventually, Marco and the other creatures reach their destination and we see ultimately what the book is about. The story is about friendship and how to make friends. At the end of the story, Marco thinks that he has failed because he has not found any foxes to answer his questions.
At the end, as he watches the sunset with his companions Marco discovers the secret to making friends and I think I agree with Victor. ‘You make friends by going on adventures together.’ and it is on another adventure that they decide to go.
This book will make a great class read for children aged 6 and upwards. There are lots of discussions to be had around the characters, around Marco’s questions and about making friends. There are also many writing opportunities to be exploited.
Also by Dashka Slater
Other books illustrated by The Fan Brothers
Reviews of these books will be coming soon.