Oskar's Voyage
Signed, personalized copies available
from Red Balloon Bookshop.

Oskar's Voyage

Written by Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrated by Kayla Harren
Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2024
ISBN: 978-1681342849 32 pages


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?
He scrabbles east. He scrabbles west.
He races ’til the red
A paw. A claw. A metal rail …
Oskar almost DROPS!

All at once, a crashing din
begins as tons of pellets pour
down to empty, open hatches.
Mountains rise—
of iron ore.

Journal Reviews

What kid doesn't love watching the big freighters when the family visits Lake Superior? Minnesotans Laura Purdie Salas and Kayla Harren explore life on these hulking vessels in Oskar's Voyage...
—Mary Ann Grossmann, Literary Pick for the Week, St. Paul Pioneer Press
In gentle rhyme, Salas takes us on a tour of the giant boat, from the spotless galley to the pilothouse to the rumbling engine room. Harren's bright paintings bring the big boat and the wide-open lake to life. An informative, entertaining book for young boat-watchers.
—Laurie Hertzel for the Star Tribune

Reader Reactions

Oskar’s Voyage is a delightful story by Laura and illustrator Kayla Harren about an endearing chipmunk whose love of tomatoes causes him to become a stowaway on a Great Lakes freighter. It is full of fun, facts, and lots of emotion.

—Rose Capelli, at Imagine the Possibilities


Downloadable Activities

Help Oskar get home!
oskar_color cover_thumbnail
Color the book cover
Now color Oskar
Oskar's feelings
oskar_great lakes_thumbnail
Name the lakes and states

Photo Gallery

View From Bow - PRT
Looking back from the bow of the PRT
Luggage up - PRT
Loading our luggage. Is Oskar in there?
Cargo hold full of coal - PRT
A full cargo hold
Oskar's Voyage from prose to verse
Oskar's journey from prose to rhyming text
Soo Lock - PRT
Going through the Soo Lock - the PRT barely fits!
Oskar book launch 7
Laura and Kayla at the book launch
Photo by Monroe Harbormaster
Unloading in Monroe. Photo by Monroe Harbormaster
Can a tiny chipmunk
Oskar book launch 6
Kayla sketching at book launch
Photo by Monroe Harbormaster
Leaving Monroe. Photo by Monroe Harbormaster
Randy immersion suit - PRT
Randy in an immersion suit during a safety drill
With media specialist extraordinaire Holly Dragisich
With A+ media specialist Holly Dragisich
Laura engine room - PRT
Laura in the engine room
St Clair unloading - PRT
Unloading coal
Oskar book launch 2
A boat parade!
A 1,000-footer leaves Duluth Harbor
Oskar book launch 5
Signing at our book launch
Oskar book launch
Red Balloon book launch!

How this Book Got Started

Since moving to Minnesota in 1990, I've been awed by the size of Great Lakes freighters. I love watching them come and go when I visit Duluth and the North Shore of Lake Superior. In 2016, I wrote on my blog, "Someday, I swear I’m going to travel on one of these big ships (they don’t sell tickets, but sometimes raffle off a trip). Someday." In 2019, I was so lucky to get to spend more than a week sailing on the Paul R. Tregurtha, the Queen of the Lakes. That means she's the longest boat sailing the Great Lakes. Wow! Oskar's Voyage grew out of my explorations aboard the Tregurtha.

Poems I've Written

These poems connect to this book in topic, theme, or form—great for text-to-text connections!

What Detroit Knows
immersion suit
tregurtha choices

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