When their son disappeared, his parents thought they would never see him again. But years later, the boy was spotted swimming with the seals. Shannon's haunting pictures dramatize the bittersweet beauty of this traditional story from the Chinook people of the Northwest. Full-color illustrations.
"Gr. 4-6. By the shores of a great river, a young boy wanders away from the safety of his parents and his people. After an unsuccessful search, his heartbroken parents continue their journey without him. Later, they hear a story about a boy living with the seals on a rock in the river. They believe the boy is their son, and they go to retrieve him. At first, the boy can only behave as a seal--barking, crawling on his belly, eating raw fish and clams--but his parents patiently teach him, and "in time, the boy was almost as he had been before." He begins carving canoes and paddles for his people, decorating them with the designs of the sea and its creatures. But though people admire his work, the boy always remains apart. One day, while the boy and his parents are canoeing to their spring camp, the seals appear and call to the boy. He leaps from the canoe into the water to join them. From then on, when his parents traveled to spring camp, they would find a beautifully carved canoe waiting for them on the shore. "It eased the pain of missing him just a bit. For paddling those canoes, the parents and all the People could feel the joy of the boy who went to live with the seals." This spare but evocative retelling of a Chinook Indian tale about loss and redemption is powerfully written and grippingly illustrated. Shannon faithfully records the action, visually reflecting the cultural motifs of the northwestern tribe. His striking acrylic paintings impressively conjure the drama and conflict of the story, their masterly play of light and dark providing a startling counterpoint to Martin's skillful narrative. An excellent addition to any collection, the book will have wide application across curriculum lines. ~--Janice Del Negro"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"In this bittersweet story developed from a Chinook legend, an Indian boy wanders off from his parents as they are camped along a riverbank--``The whole tribe began searching. But there were no traces of the boy.'' The lad dwells among seals for a time; indeed he becomes one of them, for ``he wouldn't talk, but only grunted and barked like a seal.'' Brought back to his people, he gradually resumes his human traits, and begins to carve canoes, paddles and weapons for his people, all adorned with fantastical ``designs of the sea and the sea's creatures.'' But the youth cannot escape the water's pull: he returns to his marine existence, each year leaving a beautiful canoe for his grieving parents. This second collaboration by the creators of The Rough-Face Girl exhibits many of that work's notable characteristics. Once again Shannon's dark, romantic paintings are dramatically stylized; many of his individual images display a similarly haunting quality. Martin's retelling employs lyrical language while carefully retaining a clarity appropriate for the intended audience. Another potent Native American offering from a gifted pair. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved