Off to See the Sea

Written & Illustrated by: 

Nikki Grimes & Elizabeth Zunon

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered:

  • Black Protagonists
  • Own Voices
  • Imagination
  • Family



In this followup story by the pair that brought you Bedtime for Sweet Creatures (winner of the #bookstagang_bestof2020 Future Classics category!) now brings Off to See the Sea, another installment of our favorite mischievous tiny human trying to avoid inevitable events. Before, it was bedtime. Now, our main character is off on an aquatic adventure right in their very own bathtub!

Nikki Grimes has the most lyrical text narrated by the child’s mother, and onomatopoeia abounds while she describes the bath time adventure that is fueled by imagination and her willingness to play along to get her child clean. The illustrations are joyful and fun. I love the comparison of the bathtub being a temporary sea, and the collaged illustrations are a gorgeous blend of fantasy (like the giant rubber duck) and actual bath time events like hair washing. The story focuses on just one event (much like the first) but it embodies Black familial happiness and the love they have for each other. This poetic story has alliterative vocabulary and left me smiling after it was over. I definitely recommend checking it out, Off to See the Sea is a wonderful example of Black joy; something we need more of on all of our shelves.

This book is out today! It was kindly sent by Sourcebooks Kids, but all opinions are my own.

Nikki Grimes

Nikki Grimes does not consider herself a bona fide storyteller, but, as she told an audience at the Library of Congress, she is happy to own the title Poet. Born and raised in New York City, Nikki began composing verse at the age of six and has been writing ever since that time.

A bestselling author and a prolific artist, Nikki has written many award-winning books for children and young adults including the Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade; the Coretta Scott King Author Honor books Jazmin’s NotebookTalkin’ About BessieDark SonsThe Road to Paris, and Words with Wings; Horn Book Fanfare for Talkin’ About Bessie; ALA Notable books What is Goodbye? and Words with Wings; the popular Dyamonde Daniel chapter book series, and numerous picture books and novels including The New York Timesbestseller Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope and, most recently, Garvey’s Choice and One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance.

In addition to her work for children, Ms. Grimes has written articles for such magazines as Essence, Today’s Christian Woman, Book Links, and Image, Journal of Arts & Religion.

An accomplished and widely anthologized poet of both children’s and adult verse, Grimes has conducted poetry readings and lectures at international schools in Russia, China, Sweden and Tanzania, while short-term mission projects have taken her to such trouble spots as Haiti.

During the 1970s, Nikki coproduced and hosted The Kid’s Show on WBAI FM in New York. Later, during a six-year stint in Sweden, she hosted their radio program for immigrants, Grunslöst, and another for Swedish Educational Radio.

In 2005, Ms.Grimes was awarded the Golden Dolphin Award by the Southern California Children’s Book Association, recognizing her body of work.

Nikki has been honored with the NCTE Award for Poetry and the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award from Kent State University. In 2017, she was presented with the Children’s Literature Legacy Award for her “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”

Elizabeth Zunon

Elizabeth Zunon was born in Albany, NY and spent her childhood in a hot, sunny, tropical country in West Africa called the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), where people speak French (and many other languages). Elizabeth’s Mom read Elizabeth’s little brother and Elizabeth a lot of bedtime stories in English after they came home from speaking French all day at school. As a little girl, she loved to draw, paint, make up dances and play dress-up, and as Elizabeth grew up, that didn’t really change! After returning to the United States, Elizabeth attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and graduated in June 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration.  She’s now back in Albany, where every day she might draw, paint, collage, sew, silkscreen, make jewelry, purses, and ponder the endless possibilities of chocolate! Her work is largely influenced by the people, places, and things from her childhood in the Ivory Coast as the product of two cultures.  You can also follow her blog-Lizzie Blogs!