Seal Songby Andrea Spalding, Pascal Milelli (Illustrator)
Finn loves to swim with the seals in a secret cove. He arrives at the cove one day and rescues a young seal tangled in netting. Finn wishes the seal could live on land. That night the seals sing. "No good comes from seal songs," says Finn's father. When Sheila, a mysterious girl no one has ever seen before, appears on the cannery docks, the fisher folk are uneasy. They believe the newcomer is a magical selkie, a shape changer.
Finn, a fisherman's son, befriends a seal who becomes his selkie friend until she gives up her human life to rescue him in a storm.
Drawing on the long tradition of selkie tales, Spalding (Solomon's Tree, 2002, etc.) weaves a new story set in a Canadian community where salmon fishermen use nets. Finn works with his father, but he finds time to swim and play, and he longs to hear a seal sing. After he frees one from a net and nurses it back to health, she not only sings, she turns into a girl, Sheila, who can live on land and be his best friend—just as he had wished. All goes well until he ignores her advice and rows into a storm. Sheila sings once more and slips back into the ocean to save him, but when selkies enter saltwater, they turned back into seals. The magical elements of this friendship story seem believable in context, and the bittersweet ending is appropriate. Within the third-person narration are lyrical passages summing up important story elements. The text is set on or opposite Milelli's dark, expressive oil paintings, which focus mainly on the characters, giving only a rough idea of their surroundings.
Read aloud or alone, the storytelling and illustrations work well together, creating a memorable, satisfying whole. (Picture book. 5-9)
Read an Excerpt
The storm threw down a curtain of rain. "FINN!" screamed Sheila as she lost sight of him. In heaving swells, Finn's boat floundered. The wind howled, freezing his hands. The rain became blinding sleet. "Which way?" he cried. On the beach, Sheila sang, "Eeeeiiiiii, eeeeiiiiii." A magic song. A seal song. The piercing notes reached Finn. He rowed toward her voice, but the wind shifted.
"FINN!" screamed Sheila as she lost sight of him.
In heaving swells, Finn's boat floundered. The wind howled, freezing his hands. The rain became blinding sleet. "Which way?" he cried.
On the beach, Sheila sang, "Eeeeiiiiii, eeeeiiiiii." A magic song. A seal song.
The piercing notes reached Finn. He rowed toward her voice, but the wind shifted.
Meet the Author
Born in the industrial city of Manchester England, Andrea Spalding trained as a teacher. Then, with husband David, Andrea immigrated to Canada in 1967. After living in Alberta for 24 years, Andrea and David relocated to British Columbia and live on Pender Island, one of Canada’s Southern Gulf Islands. Curiosity about her chosen country compelled Andrea to listen to other Canadian immigrants who shared tales that later became her folktale book, A World of Stories. Andrea's first children's book, The Most Beautiful Kite in the World, was selected as a Canadian Children's Book Center's "Our Choice." She has garnered awards and nominations ever since. Her fantasy novels—The Summer of Magic Quartet—are avidly read by both children and adults. Her picturebook, Secret Of The Dance, is her 30th. Written with Aboriginal Elder Alfred Scow, it has gained accolades from both the aboriginal and white communities. For more information, visist www.andreaspalding.squarespace.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews