The Children's Bookshelf: Ocean Meets Sky

Jul 16, 2018

Ocean Meets Sky written and illustrated by brothers Eric Fan and Terry Fan is a touching story about a little boy who misses his dear grandfather. Young Finn remembers the time they spent together and all the stories his grandfather told him about a faraway place where the ocean met the sky. In his honor and because his grandfather would have been 90 years old on this day Finn decides to build a boat and sail off in search of this magical place.

Finn constructs his boat out of wooden poles, an old door, a window frame, a bed sheet, an old tire, a broom and some rope.  Children will enjoy how these found objects are fashioned into a perfect boat including a lower deck where Finn takes a nap before setting sail.

During his journey Finn meets a great golden fish. The fish offers to lead him to the magical place. First, they pass the Library Islands. This illustration is breathtaking in its conception and mesmerizing in its details. The island has incredible birds and huge walls made out of stacked books including great novels such as Treasure Island and Moby Dick and honored picture books such as Harold and the Purple Crayon and the Fan brothers’ own The Night Gardener.

When Finn reaches the special place where the ocean and the sky meet he beholds an awesome sight: ships and balloons and fish and castles merge into one enchanting scene brushed in hues of blue, grey and soft white. As Finn follows the golden fish to the moon he sees his grandfather’s face in the moon and has a chance to say goodbye before his mother awakens him from his dream.

OCEAN MEETS SKY written and illustrated with great care and imagination by the Fan Brothers is a kind story on many levels for children 4-8 years of age (Simon and Schuster, 2018).  

Questions and activities for Ocean Meets Sky

Study the wonderful illustration of Library Islands and try to find the following books that are part of the huge walls: Moby Dick, Peacocks of the World, Treasure Island, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Secret Garden, The Phantom Tollbooth, Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Wizard of Oz, The Adventures of Sinbad and The Night Gardener. Have you heard of any of these books? If so, which ones? Have you read any of these books or have had any of these books read to you? If so, which ones? Try drawing your own wall of books with the books you have read and enjoyed. Stack them up and have fun.

What does the golden fish physically have in common with Finn’s grandfather? Take a look.

Look at the first double-paged illustration. One page shows Finn and his Grandpa together and the other shows the same room after his Grandpa has died. How do you know Finn and his Grandpa love each other? What is Grandpa showing Finn? Where do you see this sea creature later in this book? What items in the empty room like the hot air balloon, the owl, the toucan, the moon jellies and the giant shell appear in the rest of the book? How does this story make you feel?