I Ship: A Container Ship’s Colossal Journey by Kelly Rice Schmitt and Jam Dong

Happy Thursday from New Jersey! Jam Dong and Kelly Rice Schmitt stopped by to finish my sentences. We chatted about ships, seas, steel, and more. I wrote the words in purple, Jam wrote the words in black, and Kelly wrote the words in green. Thank you, Jam and Kelly! 

Design Credit: Emily Harris

I Ship: A Container Ship’s Colossal Journey’s cover shows a container ship being loaded at a harbor, bustling with activity. Workers are directing the movement of containers and trucks, while others operate machinery or oversee the loading process. The ship is cluttered with containers of various sizes and colors, stacked neatly in rows. This bustling scene shows the spirit of this global shipping system: busy, orderly, and inspiring. The loaded ship faces the wild sky and the blue sea, giving you the feeling it can’t wait to start the next journey.

The ship covers more than 2/3 of the image, and combined with the extra bold font, it conveys a sense of greatness. The image stretches to the back cover, creating a panorama scene. And when you open the jacket, you’ll find fun details hidden on the jacket flaps!

The illustrations in this book were created with digital mediums. But I make textures with traditional mediums and apply them to digital illustrations to give the art a sense of hand drawing and freshness. That’s why the illustration also feels like a collage. I think collage is a good way to depict containers as they are so various in color and size. I love working with textures; the waves of the sea, the dust and scratches of the steel, and the shades of mountains all have their own textures, giving the art more layers to explore.

Picture books bring the whole big world to kids. They expose them to new ideas, cultures, and experiences, igniting their curiosity and desire to learn more. It’s like burying seeds in kids’ minds that will grow, fostering the passion and courage to explore the world.

I Ship: A Container Ship’s Colossal Journey tells the story of the people and technology that enable nearly 90 percent of international trade. In this globalized world, we all use—and even depend on—goods created in other countries, but many of us know very little about the lives of those that make that possible. I Ship invites readers on board one of these mega container ships—some of the world’s largest vehicles—to experience the work of the mighty crews that operate them and fuel our global economy.

Jam Dong’s illustrations are an absolute delight! Her playful style and bright colors bring life to this busy industry, and her night scenes are breathtaking. I marvel at how Jam was able to maximize kid appeal while remaining accurate to what real-life container ships look like. I think kids will also love diving into the art again and again to look for the fun search-and-find items featured on the end pages.

Picture books shape the way readers see the world. As most children’s first experience with art, they explore both what it means to be human and what it means to be a part of the universe. They reveal the world as it is today and inspire readers to dream about what it can become.

Kelly Rice Schmitt is a former energy trader who writes for curious kids of all ages. She loves getting small humans excited about big ideas . . . like container shipping! Although she has scheduled ship logistics and tracked energy shipments around the world, she has never worked on a container ship. Kelly lives in North Carolina with her husband, children, and many stacks of books. I Ship is her debut book. Learn more about Kelly at www.kellyriceschmitt.com.

Jam Dong is an illustrator and picture book author whose work has received international recognition, including from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. She was born and raised in Shanghai, China, and is currently based in Boston, Massachusetts. As a kid growing up by the sea, ships have always been one of Jam’s favorite things to draw. For her, illustrating a book about the journey of a container ship is a dream come true. Visit her online at www.jamdongart.com

Look for I Ship: A Container Ship's Colossal Journey on October 4, 2023. Pre-order a copy from your favorite bookshop. 


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