“A search for friendship that successfully wows hearts, but more especially eyes, with its beauty.”
The book opens on a magnificent lighthouse vista as Caspian watches the waves “wondering, waiting, wishing for a friend”. His waiting turns to action when he sends off a message in a bottle, its contents initially unknown to the reader and a single-word response sends Caspian off on an ocean adventure until he finally arrives at his destination—a friend in polar bear form. The end feels almost too anticlimactic as the two immediate friends start for Caspian’s home in seeming thoughtless disregard for whatever home the polar bear once had, but this small flaw pales in comparison with the magnificence of the telling of this simple story in both prose and picture. The story itself is told smoothly in a tone simultaneously sad, hopeful and soothing with enjoyable injections of seashore terminology as Caspian’s “hopes bo[b] like a bottle on waves”, its repetition of “wondering, waiting, wishing” emphasizing to the reader the depth and duration of the little boy’s loneliness without a friend. The illustrations, however, are the true masterstroke. Spread after spread are filled with marvelous details and a masterful use of texture that creates depth and interest while still matching the softness that characterizes the book. The changing of the seasons, melding of constellations with the sea and bursting sunrise awash with pink all form striking tableaus that speak to the readers soul in an invitation to powerful emotion.
Caspian lives in a lighthouse surrounded by a cold gray-blue sea. Every day, he watches, wishing for a friend. But no one comes. So, Caspian decides that wishing is not enough. What follows is an imaginative journey that will inspire readers to reach out to others and remind us all that the power to change our world lies within ourselves.
Caspian really wants to have a friend. While you may not be able to send off a message in a bottle, what are some things you could do to help you make more friends? How can you be a good friend?
As Caspian drifts on the sea, the illustrations feature a host of constellations. Do you recognize any of them? With an adult’s help, try to learn some of the stories behind and names of constellations.
While the story takes a turn that seems surprisingly shallow and simple considering the skillful artistry of both the book and the initial story development, the illustrations are unique and beautiful throughout, making it on the whole a tender story of friendship.
To Jaska, Esme, and Peg, an inspiring children's librarian.