Setting Sail Before Breakfast

h1 December 29th, 2020 by jules


I’m back! I return from my unintentional break from the online, networked world. A cyber-hello to one and all.

And just in time to tell you about a book published in October. I find myself at this time of year wanting to talk about the books I missed during the year. Better late than never to tell you about 2020 books that I hope you see before 2021.

And that book today is David Goodner’s Kondo & Kezumi Visit Giant Island (Little, Brown), illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi. This is the first title in a new chapter book series. I’m happy it exists and can’t wait to see the second book. It is especially intriguing to see the ways in which Tsurumi extends the text in this book, given passages like: “Kondo was big. Kezumi was little. They lived on an island with fruit trees and berry bushes and flitter-birds and fluffle-bunnies. …” Clearly, Goodner intended to give the illustrator a ton of space to let their imagination run wild, and Tsurumi does so — with entertaining results.

As you can see in this post today, Tsurumi depicts Kondo (the big one) as a square-ish, orange creature with arms and legs; Kezumi (the little, more wonder-filled one — look at those big eyes) is a darker shade of orange. The two discover a message in a bottle on the island where they make their home: “WE ARE NOT ALONE.” This is written on a map featuring more islands of various shapes. Kezumi, significantly more adventurous than trepidatious Kondo, wonders who else might be out there, but “Kondo was not excited.” The next day, Kezumi starts to build a boat — and talks Kondo into setting out on a journey, saying: “We can’t find the fun if we’re afraid of the scary.”

With assured lines and a bright, appealing palette, Tsurumi runs imaginatively with Goodner’s text to bring readers a world of fantastical creatures. “Sea jumpers” swim close to Kondo’s and Kezumi’s boat, yet “sea jumpers” is the only text given to describe them. Tsurumi brings us winged, fish-like creatures flying through the air (also in an orange shade). This is pictured below. “The second day was exciting, too,” writes Goodner in the following chapter, Tsurumi depicting sea-green octopus-like creatures on extended legs (and with subtle patterns on their skin), rising well above the surface of the water while Kondo and Kezumi watch in fascination.

There’s a lot of adventure here to reel in young readers who are into chapter books, and Goodner’s text is plainspoken (such as the aforementioned “Kondo was big” and “Kezumi was little”) and engaging. There is an island made of cheese (be still, my heart), aka the Dairy Isle. There’s also Fireskull Island with a cave that looks a lot like a lava-dribbling, fire-shooting monster. One chapter is titled simply “Things Do Not Go as Planned.” But on Giant Island, they meet Albert, an amiable volcano — though I can’t spoil all of the story for you, so I’ll stop there.

But even better than the adventure and Tsurumi’s richly imagined depiction of this world is the friendship between Kondo and Kezumi, the heart of the tale. The gentle ways Kezumi encourages Kondo to work past fears and the way their bond gets them through the ups and down of their adventure — it’s all touching, but never cloying.

Below are some spreads from the book, including a few preliminary images from Andrea. Here’s to more advenures with these two. (Book Two is scheduled for release in early 2021.)

And thanks to Andrea for sharing!



Two images above: Early sketches
(Click each to enlarge)


Annotated sketches for book’s second spread
(Click to enlarge)


“‘It might be dangerous,’ Kondo said.”
Portion of second spread (final)

(Click to enlarge)


A final spread: “‘Of course not. We have each other,’ Kondo reminded her.”
(Click to enlarge)


A final spread: “‘I wonder who else is out there,’ Kezumi said.”
(Click to enlarge)



A final spread: “Sea jumpers flew across the water and leaped over the waves.”
(Click to enlarge)


A final spread: “An island of cheese!”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for the Fireskull spread
(Click to enlarge)


A final spread: “‘That doesn’t look like a friendly island,’ Kondo said.”
(Click to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

KONDO AND KEZUMI VISIT GIANT ISLAND. Text copyright © 2020 by David Goodner. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Andrea Tsurumi. Published by Little, Brown and Company, New York. All images reproduced by permission of Andrea Tsurumi.

One comment to “Setting Sail Before Breakfast”

  1. awesome post! cant wait to read this!

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact Thanks.