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Oskar's Voyage

Oskar's Voyage

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Laura Purdie Salas and Kayla Harren

Minnesota Historical Society Press (March 5, 2024)

A tiny chipmunk named Oskar accidentally stows away on an enormous Great Lakes freighter. Can he survive an epic trip—and find his way back home?


Near a bustling harbor, a plucky chipmunk's love of tomatoes earns him a heart-pounding ride "up up up" onto a huge ship. After iron ore pellets thunder into the cargo holds, the boat sets sail across Lake Superior—with Oskar still aboard! Lost and desperate to return to land, Oskar explores the enormous boat for a way out. The metal, the machines, the noise—it's all so different from his small home in the oak tree. Tasty treats in the galley calm his nerves, but when he ventures up to the pilothouse, where sailors steer the ship, he's shocked to see his bridge and his oak tree fading into the distance. Soon, the lake stretches endlessly in all directions.

As he searches for a way home, Oskar discovers excitement—and danger—instead. He's never before seen a dizzying drop to icy water; an avalanche of mail; a roaring, rumbling engine room; or a steel boom swinging through the sky to deliver a ship's cargo. Though he encounters amazing wonders on board, he can't find the one thing he needs most—his oak tree back at the harbor. Will Oskar ever make it home?

In 2019 author Laura Purdie Salas took a voyage on the Paul R. Tregurtha, the largest freighter on the Great Lakes. That trip inspired her poetic narrative highlighting the features of a working ship through a chipmunk's eyes. Artist Kayla Harren's vibrant illustrations offer glimpses into life aboard alaker—with dazzling scenes of both inland sea and shore. A diagram of a freighter offers perspective, and a map displays Oskar's route. A glossary and further reading list round out this tale of an unlikely adventure—and may just inspire readers to imagine their own Great Lakes excursion.

Author Information

Laura Purdie Salas has written more than 135 books for kids, including Lion of the Sky,a Kirkus Best Book and Parents Magazine Best Book of the Year; the Can Be . . . series, a Bank Street Best Book; and BookSpeak!, which earned a Minnesota Book Award. She enjoys speaking to teachers and writers, and she especially loves visiting with students and getting them excited about reading and writing. Laura lives in Minnesota with her family and can't get enough of Great Lakes boats. Learn more at

Kayla Harren is the illustrator behind Calvin, winner of the 2022 Lambda Literary Award; A Boy Like You, winner of the 2019 Eureka! Gold Award; The Boy Who Grew a Forest, winner of the 2020 Crystal Kite Award; and Thursday, featured in the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show. Her favorite activities include skipping stones while walking along the beaches of Lake Superior and watching chipmunks hide food in their cheeks. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and their adorable dogs. View her work at


  • Hardcover, paper over boards
  • Ages 3 to 7
  • 32 pages
  • 10 in H | 10 in W | 0.5 in T
  • ISBN: 9781681342849

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