In Mama Makes Up Her Mind, author Bailey White tells how she taught elementary-age children to read with a book about the Titanic-her classes loved the tragic tale. Perhaps Seymour (Hunting the White Cow) has the same mission in mind with this volume, which aims to haunt readers with the sunken ships of Lake Superior. A boy intending to wade along the shore is warned by seagulls, "Don't go near! Don't go near the water!... Superior has a hunger." The gulls list several craft that vanished beneath the lake's violent surface, and the boy thinks twice about dipping his toes. Seymour sets an appropriate spine-tingling mood, but the climactic references to the wreck of the Fitzgerald lack the detail needed to call forth the gooseflesh-the author doesn't even provide the year of the accident (1975, according to the flap copy). Although the angry-eyed birds claim a bond with the ship ("We are the gulls of the Edmund Fitzgerald!"), they never explain whether, as sailing lore might have it, they're the ghosts of the crew. In his debut as an illustrator, Seymour supplies collages with grainy black-and-white images of ships and uncomplicated cut-paper figures in shades of sea green, gull gray and bright yellow. Skull-like faces of humans and of a gull appear in the foam on the waves, providing a mildly chilling touch. For a spookier take on ghostly galleons, see Jane Yolen's and David Shannon's The Ballad of the Pirate Queen (Children's Forecasts, Apr. 17, 1995). Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
- Leslie Verzi Julian
Have you wondered at the calls of seagulls circling and dipping over the rolling ocean? These gulls spread a haunting message: "Don't go near! Don't go near! Don't go near the water...Superior has a hunger." They weave the tale of great ships swallowed by Lake Superior, and they witness to the fall of the greatest-The Edmund Fitzgerald. There are enough historical and descriptive details to wet the appetite of the curious reader. There is a mysterious tone that makes this telling as memorable as the great ships that perished.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2Gulls on the shore warn a beach visitor of the awesome power of Lake Superior, recounting the ships that have gone down there, including the most heralded Edmund Fitzgerald. Certainly, sea disasters are surrounded by drama, myth, and legendthe stuff great stories are made of. Unfortunately, this effort fails on every level. The narration is awkward. As the ship sinks, faces appear in the water until "a wave, like a tongue, licked them away." Wide-eyed, bright-beaked gulls as narrators seem a strange choice for such a somber happening. The collage-style artwork doesn't convey the ominous threatening power of the lake. The intended audience is also unclear. Children would need some background knowledge to understand the simple story. Readers with knowledge of the event would want more detail than this book offers. Overall, an unmemorable depiction of a very memorable occurrence.Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI