The Sea Chest

The Sea Chest

5.0 1
by Toni Buzzeo, Mary GrandPre, Margaret Spengler
     
 

From the author of the 2013 Caldecott Honor Book, ONE COOL FRIEND!

As they wait for the arrival of a new baby, Maita tells her great-grandniece the story of her remarkable childhood. Living sheltered on a lighthouse island with only her parents for company, Maita always longed for a sibling-longed not to be the only child the ragged island

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Overview

From the author of the 2013 Caldecott Honor Book, ONE COOL FRIEND!

As they wait for the arrival of a new baby, Maita tells her great-grandniece the story of her remarkable childhood. Living sheltered on a lighthouse island with only her parents for company, Maita always longed for a sibling-longed not to be the only child the ragged island knew. And then one icy night, howling winds blew wave after wave against the shore, and from that fearsome storm came a sea chest-a gift that would change Maita's life forever.

From a beguiling Maine legend, newcomer Toni Buzzeo has fashioned this exquisitely lyrical, intimate tale, illustrated in vibrant oil paintings by Mary GrandPre. Together they have created a book of classic beauty and resonance.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While waiting for a "stranger," a girl snuggles with her great-great-aunt, looking at a photo of a small child "touched so often with hope, the edges curl." This intriguing beginning launches a touching story-within-a-story. Auntie Maita describes her loneliness as the only child of a Maine lighthouse keeper. One morning, after a fierce storm, Maita and her father find a sea chest wrapped in mattresses. Inside, they find a baby and this sorrowful note: "We commit this child into the hands of God. May He save her." Basing her plot on a local legend, Buzzeo, a Maine school librarian making her picture book debut, writes with such vivid, sensory-rich language that readers are almost certain to feel Maita's yearning for companionship and, later, her joy at having a sister. GrandPr 's (illustrator of the Harry Potter books) oil paintings, too, communicate the characters' shifting moods. During the storm, Mama and Maita peer through the window at Papa as he lurches against the wind toward the lighthouse. In a shadowy, sea-like, blue-green room, their candlelit faces exude a deep but stoically controlled fear. Back in the present, the girl looks expectantly at the quilt-lined sea chest, which "waits open on the table, for the tiny stranger my mama and papa have gone to fetch from so far across the wide Atlantic. To be my sister." Poignant, poetic and movingly illustrated, this story resonates with sisterly love. Ages 5-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Based on a legend about the Hendricks Head Lighthouse, this beautiful book tells the story of a lighthouse family that, after weathering a terrible storm, find a chest washed up on the shore. Inside is a beautiful baby girl with the note, "We commit this child into the hands of God. May He save her. Captain and Mrs. Donald Warren." Maita, the girl who lives at the lighthouse, falls in love with her new little sister and calls her Seaborne and they enjoy a wonderful upbringing together on their island home. The prose is just breathtaking in its description of their lives—"I taught her how to gently probe for eggs in the dimness under the porch. We took turns circling double yolk days..." The story is told in retrospect by an aged Maita to her great niece as she waits for her parents to bring her brand new sister home from somewhere across the Atlantic. The oil paintings by Mary GrandPre (best known for her wonderful Harry Potter illustrations; and why in the world when they put Harry P. on all kinds of merchandise they didn't stick with her pictures, I'll never know), draw you into the book from page one. Her close-up portrait of little Seaborne when they first find her will bring a tear to your eye. A heartwarming family and adoption tale. 2002, Dial Books for Young Readers,
— Sharon Levin
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Aunt Maita tells her great-grandniece about her wonderful but lonely young years as the only child of a lighthouse keeper and his wife on a rocky Maine island. The text is poetic, describing the change in seasons in this remote setting. Then comes a terrible storm that frightens the family and bodes disaster for any ship at sea. The following day, Maita and her father find a bundled mattress, obviously washed ashore from a sunken ship. Unfolding it, they discover a leather sea chest with a baby inside, accompanied by a note from her despairing parents. The family adopts the child and they raise her as their own. Together Maita and Seaborne spend their days together-first on the island and later on the mainland where they live close by. At the end, readers learn that Aunt Maita, now an old woman, is telling the story to her niece as the child is waiting for her own adopted sister to arrive from overseas. GrandPr 's oil paintings create the dramatic effects of the story. From the muted sunrise on the endpapers to the sunset on the back cover, this lovely book has an intimacy that is enhanced by reading it aloud. The combination of exquisite language and enchanting illustrations makes this a unique and outstanding book.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A contemporary family adoption story and a 19th-century legend are braided together into a tale of extraordinary tenderness and remembered longing. A child sits with her great-aunt Maita, waiting. Aunt Maita grew up on a Maine island where her father was lighthouse keeper. She was taught by her mother, and longed for company. One stormy night, they spot a ship but can do nothing more than keep the light tower lit. When she and her father go down to the shore in the morning, they find a bundle wrapped in eiderdown quilts and tied with sailor's knots. Within it is a sea chest, with a tiny baby inside with a note from its parents, commending the child into God's hands. They name her Seaborne, and Maita shares her island treasures such as double-yolk eggs and ripening pumpkins, and teaches her to read. Seaborne is the contemporary child's great-grandmother, recently passed away, and the chest sits awaiting the new baby girl to be adopted by the narrator's parents. In her debut for children, Buzzeo uses heightened language with great clarity and emotional precision, and it is elegantly matched by GrandPré's (Aunt Claire's Yellow Beehive Hair, 2001, etc.) oil paintings. Her palette partakes of the gold wash of memory and the cherished lavender shadows of home at nightfall. She uses light splendidly: light on the water, light on the island flowers, lamplight on the two girls reading. Altogether a lovely effort. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-9)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803727038
Publisher:
Dial
Publication date:
08/28/2002
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
11.08(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.43(d)
Lexile:
AD1040L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 Years

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