Simon is a young harbor seal, just recently born, living with his seal family. An early spring storm suddenly sweeps him out to sea, and the youngster has to learn to survivequickly. He meets foes and friends, including the kind humans he encounters throughout his journey.
The adventure of Simon, the young harbor seal, is one that has happened before. Seals and other marine animals are regularly washed ashore throughout Northeast USA and are rescued by the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research&Preservation.
The foundation will receive 10 percent of the proceeds of this book to help with their great work. Please visit their website and consider supporting the rescue and rehabilitation of marine animals: http://www.riverheadfoundation.org/.
Related collections and offers
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||9 MB|
About the Author
Sheree Jeanes is a lifelong resident of coastal New York. She lives in Long Island with her family and is frequently found on beaches like the ones featured in this story. This is her first children’s book, and she is excited to publish a story about the courage of one small creature, the generous support of strangers, and the kindness people show to stranded animals everywhere.
Read an Excerpt
Simon & Sedef
A Seal's First Adventure
By Sheree Jeanes
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 Sheree Jeanes
All rights reserved.
Sedef is a lovely shade of gray. Sleek, soft, and round she has a few light freckles on her head, and round liquid black eyes. Sedef is a gray harbor seal, and she's about to become a mom.
She is travelling with her family. There are almost fifty seals swimming together: from her great-grandmother to her oldest brother's grandchildren.
It has taken them three weeks to swim along the eastern coast from Canada, stopping in at every bay and inlet that took their fancy. They have been dining on the early summer fish, enjoying the warmth of the water and the sun. They have big plans to stay for a month or more in a particular inlet off Long Island, New York. It's this family's summer home, where they molt and pup, and every summer it's an adventure travelling to Hampton Beach.
It's a risky journey. There are whales and fast boats to avoid, storms which could slow their travels, polluted waters that can make them sick. This year, Sedef is very tired and swimming far behind the group when they get to the Massachusetts/Connecticut Coastline. She frequently has to stop swimming so she can sink to the shallow Atlantic shelf, to rest. The family notices that she is not keeping up, and send back two strong young females to check on her. When she is able to, she rises to the surface, and swims supported by the youngsters for the rest of the journey.
Sedef's family lives on a long sandbar in Hampton Beach. It's tall enough to remain out of the water even during high tide, and during low tide, almost the whole sandy floor of the bay is exposed. The people who come to see the seals have made a collective promise: all have agreed to be very careful, especially during low tide, to not startle the seals. With some effort, all the people keep their curious children from running near the sandbar during low tide, and prevent anyone from throwing pebbles at the seals.
Soon after the seals arrive, the day is beautiful and calm. It's a little rainy, so there are only a few people watching from the beach. On this very day, Sedef gives birth to little Simon.
Simon is tiny, gray like his mom, but much paler. He has a fuzzy head, and milky blue eyes. He is born into the water, too surprised to swim at first. Simon's first memory is of his mother, huge compared to him, swooping underneath him to support him as he falls through the water. Sedef brings him to the surface, so he can take his first breath. This is the first time he feels the sprinkle of rain on his fur. Simon gets cold quickly, and Sedef feels him trembling. She swims quickly to the sandbar, and the rest of their clan all gather together to nuzzle their newest kin. Several aunties and uncles curl up with Simon to keep him warm, and he soon falls asleep.
Every day Simon gets stronger, and soon he is swimming as fast as his cousins. The days are mellow and easy, filled with sunshine sparkling on the bay, and cool water to wiggle into when the sun gets too warm. People visit the seals every day. Sometimes the same people come back again to see the little baby seals swimming around the sandbar. The days pass and the seals molt, losing their thick winter fur in patches so that the thinner summer fur can be seen.
One day only one person comes to visit. He is tall with grey shaggy hair and the windbreaker he wears flaps in the wind. His baseball cap almost flies off as he struggles against the wind to walk down the beach. As he looks through his binoculars at the choppy waves, and the gray day, he says, "I hope the seals weather the storm — a hurricane this time of year — who would believe it?"
Reluctantly, he puts away his binoculars and slowly walks away.
The day grows dark and the wind gusts increase as the day ends. The clan draws closer, the larger males with their backs to the wind, taking the outside ring. But, Simon is curious about the scents on the wind, and the feel of the rain on his fur. So, he edges closer to the perimeter of the pack, wriggling closer and closer, until he can peer out the edge to the water swirling wildly around the little sandbar.
The waves come closer, and just as Simon thinks to be frightened, a very large wave sweeps over the group. As it recedes, the strong current takes Simon! He twists and turns, excited at first, but then he needs to take a breath. He has not had much time at sea to learn how to pace himself, and he doesn't know which way is up to the surface. Without daylight to help him, and beginning to panic, he guesses, and guesses right, and rises gasping to the surface.
The clan is nowhere to be seen. Simon drifts, buffeted by the wind and waves. The rain hurts as it pelts his fur, and he begins to wish for the soft comfort of his mom's fur. Taking a deep breath, he dives, and starts swimming. Away from the storm on the surface, Simon feels warmer and reassured by the familiarity of the silky smooth water. It makes sense to do what the clan would do, so he begins scanning for little fish, swimming in widening circles and coming up for air when he needs it.
After a long time, the storm seems to be diminishing. A hint of new day skims over the horizon. Simon bobs on the surface with the now gentle waves, hoping to see the sandbar with his family. But, he knows he's nowhere near the sandbar any more. He is really and truly alone, and very tired and hungry too.
After drifting for a while, the sun gets lower in the sky. Simon knows that he needs to find land — he needs to pull out of the water to rest for a while. Simon feels his tummy growling--he needs fish. Thinking about the sandbar back home, he knows there were always seagulls flying nearby. "Mom said seagulls mean there's land," he thinks. Simon starts looking for birds. Coming to the top of a wave, he spins around looking in every direction before the wave comes back down below the others. As he turns toward the sun, he sees several birds in the distance, circling around like the gulls used to when they saw food on the beach. "That's it!" And he starts swimming toward the birds.
As Simon comes closer, he sees that the gulls are near a boat. He had seen boats near home, but never up close. His family had always kept their distance, and so did the boats. Wary, he sinks down under the surface. And he sees fish! Relieved, he chases down the first fish he sees, grabbing it in his mouth and gulping it down. He eats a few more quickly, darting among the school, picking a single target and chasing it with focused intensity. No longer hungry, he comes up to the surface to breathe ... and holds his breath instead. Right in front of him is a large grey creature, with brownish spots on its back, gulping air just like him. It looks at him slowly, eyes gleaming, and sinks beneath the surface of the waves. Simon takes a breath, trying to decide how to outrun it, and realizes it's safer to see what it's doing than to float above it. He sinks below the surface and comes face to face with the sand tiger shark, just waiting for him, swaying gently in the current.
Yes, the creature is a shark, a shark named Medusa. Simon doesn't know that's what it is called, but he knows to be afraid. He thinks about his mom — she would want him to be very careful. The shark swims in front of him, and floats, looking at him from one beady eye. Gently, it says, "Hello youngster."
Not knowing what else to do, Simon looks her right in that one eye, puffs himself up, and says hello. They look at each other. Simon is surprised that Medusa can float without moving; he has to gently move his flippers to stay suspended. A little fish swims too close to the shark's impressive mouth of pointed teeth, and the teeth snap, chewing the fish in half, without ever looking away from Simon.
The little seal starts to shiver a little, like when he gets cold. He doesn't know what to do. He is so aware of how young he is and how little he knows. Then he remembers how Sedef had intimidated one of the big male seals one time. The seal was pushing her around in the water, trying to move in between Sedef and Simon. She wouldn't have it, and she used her flippers in the water to make a huge swirling, splashing effect — startling the male and making it clear that trying to be with Sedef was more trouble than it was worth.
Simon starts drifting closer to the surface and steels himself to do the same thing with this shark. As he does, Medusa starts moving closer. Simon races to the surface, takes a huge breath, and starts splashing mightily, like his life depends on it. The shark, startled, draws back, uncertain. Watching warily, she tries to understand what the little seal is doing. Just as Medusa decides she should just eat the tender young seal already, a huge school of fish swims right between the shark and Simon. With one last lingering look at Simon, Medusa swims away into the school of fish, happy to have an easier meal.
Simon drifts, exhausted from his acrobatics, still looking around for the shark. He is amazed that he succeeded! The water is calm with a little breeze; the day is ending, red and orange clouds streaking across the sky, and the boat is now moving away from him. He hears a chittering sound on the wind, coming from the direction of the boat, and sees four dolphins jumping through the water toward him. Too tired to be frightened, he just waits, floating. Very quickly they're right with him, smiling and nudging him, one dives under to hold him up like Sedef did when he was small. Simon feels the kindness and knows he can trust them; he leans into their support.
They are four sisters, Patria, Minerva, Maria, and Adela. They know the fishing boat and often accompany it. The crew knows them by sight, and thinks they bring good luck and a bigger catch. They play a game at the end of their day, tossing a few fish for the sisters to catch in mid-air; they like to see the dolphins soar through the air, and the sisters like the playfulness ... and the fish. This evening, Minerva had noticed the sand tiger shark and just for a second, had seen the little seal's head pop up for air. Minerva knows that seals are tasty to a shark ... and that she would have to think quickly if the seal was going to survive.
Dolphins will work together to corral fish when they're hunting. Minerva hoped it would be enough to distract the shark before it attacked. Carefully, so as not to let the fishermen know they were chasing fish away, she and Patria bunched up a school of fish, and then released them to swim in between Simon and Medusa, at that crucial moment! When Simon understands that these lovely ladies were the source of those well-timed fish ... he is so grateful, and so tired, he actually goes limp for a while, just resting into their warmth. It's been such a long time since he could cuddle into someone. As Simon relaxes, the big world seems just a little smaller.
After a while the night comes in, and the moon rises to light the water. By now the boat is gone, and the dolphins are slowly moving Simon in the same direction. He's feeling a little stronger, so he starts swimming, and the sisters leap around him. Looking ahead, he sees the horizon. But then he realizes that the horizon is actually land. Hoping that somehow, this is the sandbar with his family, Simon begins swimming toward the shore. The sisters let him go, staying out beyond the breakers. When he reaches it, he flops awkwardly on the beach, exhausted. It's much larger than the sandbar, nothing but beach as far as he can see in any direction. Nobody is in sight, just Simon.
Dawn grows, spreading pale colors across the clouds. Soon the early morning beach walkers of Rockaway Beach, Queens come down to the sand to survey the results of the storm. They have never seen a seal on their beach — a whale once or twice, ill or blown off course — but never a harbor seal. Simon is so still and seems so weak that the people quickly become concerned.
Well ahead of her dad, a little girl named Rita comes running down the beach with her dog Desi, chasing the seagulls and splashing in the surf. They see a few people down by the jetty, and head that way to see what they had found. As Rita gets closer, she can see the small seal, laying out next to the rocks and shivering. She tells Desi to sit and wait so he won't scare the seal. Desi sits, looking with interest toward the little seal. Very carefully, Rita walks toward the seal. She wants to hug the seal to warm him, but is pretty sure that isn't the right thing to do.
Rita takes a ball out of her pocket; usually she plays fetch with Desi, but seals in the circus like balls ... maybe this one does too? She glances at Desi — she doesn't want him to chase the ball this time; he understands. Nodding, Rita looks back at the seal ... she kneels down and gently rolls the ball toward the seal. As it touches him, Simon opens his eyes. He looks at the girl and the all, and sees the friendship in her eyes. Slowly, he nudges the ball with his flipper, sending it back. The ball comes to a rest in front of Desi, lying down on his belly, nose down on the sand, just touching the ball. Rita tells Desi what a good boy he is, and notices that the seal isn't shaking anymore. For a few moments, the three youngsters sit together in the warmth of the sun.
Soon, Rita's dad comes up behind her, and other people start to come down the beach to see what the little girl and her dog are looking at.
"Someone should get the police," one woman suggests; and someone does. Two police officers come to the beach to stand over the tiny seal. They call The Riverhead Foundation to let the marine rescue team know about the little visitor. With the storm, Riverhead's marine rescue team is very busy. Their volunteers would be there as soon as they could, and they ask if the police can protect the seal, in the meantime. The officers agree.
The crowd of people grows as the word spreads through Rockaway Beach. The early morning surfers tell their friends and they come to welcome the little fellow. Families bring their children to see the seal, and the teenagers come along to check out the crowd.
Firefighters join in, but don't know what to do to help, other than to keep the crowd back. Everyone talks about what to do to help the seal, debate about what he can eat and drink. Someone insists that all seals eat steak, and brings some to the beach. Someone else contributes a bag of dog food. The police officers have to ask people to stop bringing food for the seal; they begin to hope that the marine rescue team will arrive soon.
Suddenly, Simon stirs. Slowly, his head lifts, and he gazes out to sea. He is so tired and dazed, but ... he thinks he hears a call. He looks back toward the beach, and sees the largest crowd of people he has ever seen. Surprised, he draws back into himself, but then he looks at their faces, into their eyes. Simon sees that they are like the people who visit the sandbar, and that they mean no harm. He really wishes he could see his family again, to play with his cousins and snuggle with his mom.
Wait — there it is again! Simon definitely hears the call, and very small, far from shore, he sees the clan, calling for their lost pup. Weakly, he starts crying in reply, but he can't manage much of a sound. His family doesn't where he came ashore! He knows that despite his fatigue, he has to get to the ocean, to let it take him home to his family.
Simon starts wriggling along toward the water. The murmurs start, "He's moving," and "He looks like he's ok." The police move people out of his way, cautioning people not to touch him as he struggles down the beach. Slowly, he gets closer to the surf, until he is in the water, and paddling with the waves, calling for his family as he goes.
Simon doesn't see the people wave and wish him well. He doesn't see one of the police officers wipe a tear, turning away like it's the wind in his eye. Simon just paddles with all his might, until someone in the clan sees him coming. They turn around, swimming toward him now, and soon he's right in the midst of the family again. They rub against him, so glad to see him again. Sedef puts him up on her back and carries him like an infant for a while.
Excerpted from Simon & Sedef by Sheree Jeanes. Copyright © 2015 Sheree Jeanes. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.