By Author / Illustrator
Mental Health & Wellbeing
Thames & Hudson Ltd
Out to Sea follows the journey of a young girl named Lara who is so sad after the death of her grandmother that she is carried out to sea on a flood of her own tears. When it seems like sadness has overwhelmed her entirely, she discovers a pearl at the bottom of the ocean that triggers memories of the many happy times Lara shared with her grandmother. With the pearl safely at her side, Lara realises that she is not alone and finds the strength to pick up her oars and row herself back home.
Illustrated in Helen Kellock's inimitable style of pencil, gouache and watercolour artworks, Out to Sea expresses the experience of anxiety and grief with unprecedented sensitivity. Unlike other books for children about loss or grief that usher their readers towards a conclusion, Out to Sea shows readers how they might ride the wave of emotions without losing perspective.
Lara is a little girl whose grandma has died. Her grief overwhelms her, isolates her and her tears create a river that carries her out to sea on a little boat. She spends weeks trapped and alone, not noticing the sea creatures around her, watching over her silently from the corners of the pages. As Lara sinks further into her sadness, to the bottom of the sea, she spots a glowing pearl that gradually brings light and hope back to her.
This is when she starts to look up and notices the crowd of friendly animals around her and her sense of loneliness starts to disappear. As she rows back home she starts to remember the good things in her life, including happy memories of her grandma. The book ends on a realistic note when Lara reflects that she will have other sad times and lonely nights to deal with in her life, but understands she isn't alone and will always find her way back.
This is a beautiful book for sensitive children who feel things deeply or who have suffered a trauma, the illustrations of the tiny girl alone on the stormy, dark ocean vividly communicate how isolating grief and depression are, but the addition of the hidden animals remind us we are never alone, even in our darkest hours.
This is a book to start a conversation about negative feelings with and to remind children that no matter how 'lost at sea' they feel, it won't last forever and they can always row their boat back to safety.
Picture book / Reviewed by Wendy Kelly, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 5+