Friday, April 1, 2011

The Sea Serpent and Me by Dashka Slater, Illustrated by Catia Chien


"He was a very beautiful sea serpent, so small I could hold him in my hands..."

So, I am a sucker for stories of unlikely friendships and I am completely mesmerized by large-scale, colorful illustrations. You may have noticed this. I take it to mean I am still very much of a child at heart, aching to let my imagination run wild and to be pulled into stories that only the most creative (brilliant) minds could dream up and bring to life.

The Sea Serpent and Me is narrated by a small girl who climbs into the bathtub to find a tiny sea serpent plunged into the bath from a drop of water from the faucet. Where did this tiny sea serpent come from? How in the world did he end up in a droplet of water, miles from the ocean? The little girl asks the serpent these questions and he tells her of his long journey from the sea, where he was lifted up by a powerful tornado, carried off in a cloud, dropped from a rainstorm into a lake, and finally sucked into a pipe that led him to the girl's bathtub. The narrator cares for the serpent, playing "vikings" in the tub, moving him to a large fish tank as he grows larger and larger, and eventually finding a way that she can return him to his home in the ocean. The serpent sings to the narrator at night about the sights in the sea, from dancing manta rays to crabs with antlers to fish shaped like guitars, and the narrator realizes how much the serpent longs to be home again. 

The water color-drawings that accompany the serpent's songs are energetic and romantic, and they fill each page with aqua-marine shades and antique yellows and oranges. As the narrator returns her serpent friend to the sea and he wonders if he'll be lonely in the big ocean without her, I couldn't help but feel a pang in my heart for this unlikely pair of new friends. It is truly a touching story with vivid language and imagery that is sure to hook the reader instantly. I often imagine reading such bright, lovely stories to children to a background of soft but playful music, just as I hear it in my head as I turn the final pages of the book. (If you're curious which song I'd pick to read this one to, it would be "The Winner Is" by Danna/Devotchka, which you can listen to here)

Rating:
5Q: Great use of imagery and creative language that makes the story come to life; unique but timeless story of friendship; characters that anyone could fall in love with.
5P: I cannot think of a single reason children (or adults, for that matter) would not jump all over this book! Even the cover is bright, original, and inviting.


Picture taken from si-la.org via creativecommons.org

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this post. You write about this topic very well. There are many cherished moments in life, why not wear a beautiful dress! When looking back on special memories of your child wearing a gorgeous dress, it will make a fond memory.

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