________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 19. . . .January 22, 2010


What Colour is the Ocean? (A Maggie Rose Book).

Gary Collins with Maggie Rose Parsons. Illustrated by Scott A. Keating.
St. John's, NF: Flanker Press, 2009.
24 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-897317-52-5.

Subject Headings:
Singing games.
Children's songs, English.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Rebecca King.

*** /4



What colour's the ocean today?
Look, Maggie, tell me what you'd say.
The water looks white;
it's because of the ice.

The ocean is white today.


Gary Collins and his granddaughter, Maggie Rose, have a wonderful relationship that is made evident in the text and illustrations of this little book. The text is essentially the words to a very simple song that grandfather and granddaughter have shared through the seasons of the year over a period of time. The illustrations by Scott A. Keating flesh out this simple song and are very evocative of life in Newfoundland.

internal art     Preferring more complex stories myself, I wanted the reaction of the intended audience. Consequently, I read this book as part of story time to my primary and grade l classes who can check the colour of the Halifax harbour each morning on their way to school. The pages of the book are set up with the question, "What colour's the ocean today? Look Maggie, tell me what you'd say." on one double page, and the answer appears on the next double page. My students were able to accurately predict the colour for each of the seasons. The story and illustrations elicited comments, such as: "The water gets its colour because it reflects the sky." "What is grandpa wearing? (in the winter illustrations) Will he be warm enough?" "Look, they're going swimming." The students were engaged with the material.

      Scott Keating's illustrations are an asset to the book. The double page illustrations revealing the colour of the ocean are particularly successful in conveying the moods of the ocean and the land. I found it interesting that Granddad and Maggie didn't seem to walk to the same stretch of harbour each time. The illustration for summer and the colour blue seemed to have so much sparkle on the water that much of the blue was lost. However the Halifax harbour looked exactly like that on the day I had that thought, and it was certainly not an issue for the students. It was also something of a problem for me that the last colour, black, was more the effect of the time of day rather than the time of year. It disturbed my sense of unity.

      I can see this book being useful in the primary classroom as part of their study of colours and as a tie-in with nature. Any child who lives by the water, lake, river, or ocean will be able to identify with these experiences.


Rebecca King is a Library Support Specialist with the Halifax Regional School Board in Halifax, NS.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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