Ella’s best friend, Monkey, doesn’t like good-bye hugs. He doesn’t want to say good-bye to Oma. And he doesn’t want to move away forever. Neither does Ella. But Papa is waiting for them in New York. So Ella and Monkey must board the ship with Mama and leave their old home in Holland for their new home in America. Along the way, there is fish for dinner (Monkey hates fish), a playroom full of new kids (Monkey doesn’t like strangers), and stormy seas that leave everyone feeling sick. Can Ella and Monkey find a way to weather the storm? Will they ever feel at home again? This story will appeal to anyone who has left home behind — and to children who find creative ways to share their emotions.
32 page picture book for ages 3-7, Candlewick Press, August 2018
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Praise for Ella & Monkey at Sea
"Told through the eyes of a young girl and her stuffed monkey, Ella and Monkey at Sea is perfectly pitched for young children. The story opens with Ella hugging her grandmother, Oma, before boarding a ship bound for America. During the long journey across the ocean, Ella’s emotions are transferred to monkey. Monkey “wants his own bed at home,” he “misses Oma and dinners at home,” and “says no” when the other children ask him to play. Eventually, Ella moves through feelings of homesickness to feelings of hope and excitement for their new country. I read this simple yet effective story aloud to a group of kindergarten students and the empathy stirred by Ella’s honesty was evident on their young faces.” — Emmie Stuart, BookPage Online
"Clutching Monkey, her stuffed animal, Ella hugs her grandmother before she and Mama board a ship bound for America. Every day, Mama leaves Ella and Monkey with a friendly teacher in the ship’s playroom, where, missing home, they sadly watch other children having fun. When a hurricane churns the sea, many passengers become worried and seasick. In the almost empty playroom, Ella and Monkey draw picture after picture: bleak, angry scribbles of the storm, followed by cheerful images of the sun. Smiling, she gives her drawings to others. The story ends happily when Ella disembarks and hugs Papa. The child narrates, using short, direct sentences. Created with watercolor, graphite, colored pencil, and crayon, colorful illustrations convey the characters’ feelings well. The book reflects Boon’s childhood experience of leaving the Netherlands and traveling to America on a ship that encountered a hurricane. She sensitively portrays a child who struggles with loss but copes by expressing herself through art and by transferring her emotions to Monkey and then comforting him. A satisfying picture book telling one immigrant’s story." — Carolyn Phelan, Booklist Online Reviews
"Can a girl and her toy monkey adjust to a move across the sea?
After a tearful goodbye hug from Oma, Ella and her stuffed monkey, Monkey, embark on a journey across the ocean with Ella’s mother to their new home in New York. Colorful watercolors portray the pigtailed, round-cheeked heroine and her beloved toy as they begin to navigate the boat, but it soon becomes clear that Monkey is less than pleased. He “doesn’t want to get on a ship, or sail off to sea, or move away forever.” He is unhappy with their unfamiliar bunk beds and the ship’s playroom. He misses Oma and hates fish. Meanwhile, a storm is brewing at sea. The rocking ship makes everyone seasick, and only Ella and Monkey seem to be walking around, so the two decide to try to scribble the storm away with crayons. After an expressive drawing session, Ella begins to sketch the sun and remembers that she has a hello hug from Papa to anticipate when the ship docks. Based on the author’s childhood experiences when her own family emigrated from the Netherlands, this story of a child working through her frustrations and adjusting to change with help from a toy is warm and comforting. Ella and her family are white; there are families of color onboard the ship with them.
A warm tale of catharsis and acceptance." (Picture book. 3-6) – Kirkus Review