In a story recounted through the daily log of Captain Allan Hope, the sailors aboard the Rita Anne become mesmerized and transformed by a mysterious glowing rock, and only music and books can restore them to normal.
A captain's log records the puzzling transformation of his ship's sailors after a glowing rock from an uncharted island is brought aboard. They turn into apes, insensate to the captain's orders and ``fascinated by the rock.'' A storm nearly scuttles the ship but also breaks the stone's hold over the men, who return to normal--except for an inordinate fondness for bananas. Once again, Van Allsburg voyages into an unknown territory that is mystical and eerie--though his somewhat overblown prose substitutes unsettling obfuscation for dramatic storytelling. His sharp-edged, ultra-realistic paintings are a marvel in their own right, from the otherworldly luminiscence of the ominous island to the deep indigos used to create the stillness of the ship and sea by night to oddly angled, even dizzying perspectives of the ship's hold and mast. All ages. (Oct.)