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Book Buzz: Yellow Kayak

Yellow Kayak
Written by Nina Laden
Illustrated by Melissa Castrillon
Ages 5-8, Paula Wiseman Books,
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Yellow Kayak is a whimsical poem about an adventure in a kayak with a friend. The lyrical cadence of the lines reminds us of a lazy paddle around an island to see what the otters and other marine life are up to. A kayak puts you almost right at the water’s surface, where you can see many things going on—both above the water and below. The poem invites a young reader on a kind of tour of the island’s wild inhabitants, and their descriptions beckon more questions about how they live in harmony.

When a squall catches the explorers off guard, they are in for a little tossing and turning from the chop of the waves. In something as small as a kayak, one is bit at nature’s mercy. Aquatic friends help out as the story floats back to shore in a pleasing way.

Nina Laden lives on idyllic Lummi Island just off the coast of the state of Washington where the ocean surrounds and inspires.

“Yellow Kayak” is based on a true experience I had on a kayak paddle when a storm came up out of nowhere… only in real life we were rescued by neighbors on a fishing boat, not Orca whales… but I wished we were rescued by Orcas. I wrote the poem to the rhythm of paddling my kayak.”

                          ~Nina Laden

Castrillon’s fanciful pencil and colored illustrations invite you to linger on each page to see what surprise young eyes can find when the poem is read for the fifth time. The graphic stylized designs give pause to the fun of seeing the animals in their natural habitat and the clever way they are rendered.

Yellow Kayak will be enjoyed by readers of all ages as they discover island life from one who lives it.

About The Author

Chuck Galey

Chuck Galey has drawn all his life. “I had everything I needed growing up in a small farm town in the Mississippi Delta; a pencil, a piece of paper and a long-winded Baptist preacher.” He has illustrated over seventy educational books and eleven children’s picture books, one that he authored. When he is not working on books in his studio in Jackson, Mississippi, he is presenting exciting school programs that inspire and astonish students. His programs, listed on the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Teaching Artist Roster, encourage them to be creative in their reading, writing and art. For additional information about Chuck , visit his website:

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