Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Surf War!: A Folktale from the Marshall Islands

Surf War!: A Folktale from the Marshall Islands

4.7 3
by Margaret Read MacDonald, Geraldo Valerio (Illustrator)

Surfs up! Sandpiper finds her daily stroll on the beach interrupted by Whale, who boasts that he is ruler of the sea. Sandpiper responds with equal bravado, asserting her rights to the sand and seawater. Soon the rivals are calling in their cousins, and the beach and sea are filled with shorebirds and sea mammals of every stripe. The standoff grows ominous as Whale


Surfs up! Sandpiper finds her daily stroll on the beach interrupted by Whale, who boasts that he is ruler of the sea. Sandpiper responds with equal bravado, asserting her rights to the sand and seawater. Soon the rivals are calling in their cousins, and the beach and sea are filled with shorebirds and sea mammals of every stripe. The standoff grows ominous as Whale leads his cousins in an assault on the beach, eating the sand from under the birds. Sandpiper retaliates by ordering her cousins to drink up the ocean. Soon the landscape is filled with fish, crabs, and sea creatures gasping for survival. How will this end? The outcome of this timely yet timeless nature tale suggests that we are all connected in the ecological chain. These Pacific folktales will teach readers the importance of citizenship, respect and sharing.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kristy Lyn Sutorius
This folktale from the Marshall Islands chronicles what happens when animals get worked up over something small. Minding his own business, Sandpiper catches tiny fish as the waves roll in. Whale takes great offense as he believes whales are the owners of the ocean and that Sandpiper should stay away. Sandpiper stands up to the belligerent Whale and declares his right to the sea, claiming there are more sandpipers than whales. To prove his enemy wrong, Whale calls his brother whales, and then all of the whale cousins from the four corners. Sandpiper also calls for reinforcements, and it is hard to tell which camp has the most troops. Whale gets the bright idea to eat all of the land, and Sandpipers responds to this nastiness by leading all of the birds to drink the sea. When the Sandpiper sees that the bottom-dwelling sea creatures are "dying in the hot sun," he orders the birds to "spit back the water, "Ptoooie…ptoooie…ptoooie." The whales regurgitate the beach with a "glurk, glurk, glurk." The pods of porpoises, flocks of flamingos, and all the rest head home, leaving the former enemies to care for the habitat they both desperately need. The melodic native quality makes this an excellent read-aloud. Ever the professional, MacDonald includes source notes and the folktale motif number. It is not essential, but it is recommended as an additional purchase. Reviewer: Kristy Lyn Sutorius
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Sandpiper, who waits for the waves to deliver her meal of minnows, is confronted by angry Whale. He fancies himself the ruler of the sea and is furious with Sandpiper for invading his territory. After she points out that there are more sandpipers than whales, Whale insists that his kind outnumber the birds. He calls forth all of his brothers while Sandpiper shouts for her sisters. After no one can tell which side has more, Whale requests that his cousins come to the island: the dolphins, orcas, and porpoises. Sandpiper likewise calls, and flamingos, pelicans, egrets, and terns all appear. Still, no one can tell who has more. Whale commands his kind to eat up the land, while Sandpiper and the other birds drink up the sea. This turns out to be a losing proposition for both parties, who decide that they must all share their resources. The illustrations dominate the pages, with the birds and their backgrounds painted with bright shades of yellow, pink, and orange, while the sea and its creatures are deeper blues, grays, and purples. This charming story provides a moral about getting along with others and caring for the environment.—Donna Atmur, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
This third collaboration between author and illustrator (Conejito, 2006, and Go to Sleep, Gecko!, 2007) derives from Micronesia, specifically the Marshall Islands. Little Sandpiper and great Whale have a surf war over territory. Each claims there is more of their kind; Whale calls forth his whale brothers and Sandpiper calls her sisters. More birds or more whales? Impossible to tell, so they next call for their cousins. Whale has an idea: If the whales eat up all the land, there will be no place for the birds to perch. Sandpiper has an idea: If the birds drink up all the sea, there will be no water for the whales. But, drying up the sea will also dry up the birds' food source, so they spit back the water and the whales spit back the island; the bragging contest ends in sharing "surf and turf." The telling is rich with a storyteller's voice and sound effects, while Valerio's bright blues and yellows span the spreads with broad, brush strokes that mirror the setting of this symbiotic, ecology folktale. (source notes) (Picture book/folktale. 5-8)

Product Details

August House Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.50(d)
AD310L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Margaret Read MacDonald Bio: Margaret Read MacDonald is a professional storyteller, award winning author and highly respected consultant who travels the world telling stories and conducting workshops for educators. Her most popular workshop “Playing with Stories” has been offered in over 70 countries. She has been invited to storytelling and literary festivals in Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand and Singapore. In addition, Dr. MacDonald teaches storytelling to classroom teachers for the Lesley University Creative Education through the Arts program. For years, she also taught storytelling as an Adjunct Professor with the University of Washington Information School. Dr. MacDonald is the author of over 60 books on folklore and storytelling topics, including many award winning folktale picture books. She has been telling stories since 1964 in her work as a children’s librarian, and she holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University along with an M.Ed.EC. (Educational Communications Masters) from the University of Hawaii and a Master’s of Library Science (MLS) from the University of Washington. She is well known for her ability to create texts that delight the ear and are easy for teachers to share. Teaching with Story contains 20 of these useful stories that can be used by teachers with their students.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Surf War!: A Folktale from the Marshall Islands 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
Surf War is based on a folktale from the Marshall Islands. The whale and sandpiper argue about whether there are more whales or sandpipers. They call all their sisters, brothers, and cousins to come. When they still cannot decide who has more, the whales decide they will eat up the island so the birds can't stay and the birds decide to drink up the water for the same reason. When the birds realize they are causing their food supply of small sea creatures to die they put the water back and the whales decide to put the land back as well. They now believe that their home- the ocean should be at peace. I love the quote from the story, "Such a silly thing to start a war." This book has such a great message of sharing, acceptance, co-operation as well as the ecological message about realizing the results of our actions. These are all great messages that depending upon the age of the child or children being read this story, many discussions could develop. The illustrations are vibrant, child friendly and attractive. As another reviewer said, "The idea that war comes from anger and isn't a solution is a great idea for a book targeting future generations. I was provided a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
catloverAD More than 1 year ago
Nice story that shows what can happen when you lose sight of what is really important. Nice large colorful pictures. I think this is a good book to have on any childs bookcase. Reviewed through NetGalley and August House.
InspirationalAngel531 More than 1 year ago
Title: Surf War! - A Folktale from the Marshall Islands Author: Margaret Read MacDonald Illustrator: Geraldo Valerio Publisher: August House/Little Folk Published: 32 ISBN: 9780874838893 Pages: 32 Genre: Children's Fiction Tags: Conflict, Friendships Overall Rating: 5.0 Excellent Reviewed For: NetGalley Reviewer: DelAnne What is worth going to war over? Land? Food? Opinions? All three could be right, but under what conditions? One day a small sandpiper was out eating small minnows from the ocean when a very large whale came and saw what the sandpiper was doing and yelled at the sandpiper to stop! When the sandpiper refused an argument started over who there were more of, sandpipers or whales, the winner would have claim to the island and the ocean around it. Calling in their brothers and sisters and cousins there were so many they could not tell who had more. Then each side decide to make it impossible for the other side to survive. How far are they willing to go to win? Will they harm themselves just to prove a point? This is a fantastic children's story to teach young readers that although something looks like it is most important to be right about, it is easy to get caught up and go too far. It shows that compromise could be just the answer. Also just because your are different doesn't mean you can not get along and become friends. Pick up a copy to share with your young reader today.