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The Serpent Came to Gloucester

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2005


    It has been documented that in August of 1817 the residents of Gloucester, a small Massachusetts fishing village, saw a rather frightening sight - a gigantic sea serpent swimming off the coast. Evidently, these reports caused a bit of a stir as a number of people came to study this sea creature and others came in hopes of capturing it. All to no avail As told by M. T. Anderson in captivating rhyme this is the story of that serpent and of how the people in the village gradually almost became accustomed to their startling new neighbor. He begins with: 'It was on a day when the sun was bright, When the limpets were thick on the rocks, When the seagulls would squawk And would talk and would fight For the fish laid to dry on the docks.' Thus, Anderson is a bit of a Scherazade as he escorts readers through first the initial sighting by a young boy, next to the townspeople watching the serpent play in the water, and then to the men coming with weapons, singing 'killing songs.' According to historical records, a Captain Rich came the closest by claiming to have harpooedn the creature but the serpent shook off the harpoon and swam away. Bagram Iratoulline's illustrations are lovely, luminous, evoking the scenes of 19th century New England and the mysterious beauty of the ocean.

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