CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 39. . . .June 10, 2011.
The Seven Seas.
Ellen Jackson. Illustrated by Bill Slavin & Esperança Melo.
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young People, 2011.
36 pp., hardcover, $15.99 (US).
Stories in rhyme.
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Ellen Heaney.
Well-known for his work with Linda Bailey on the “Good Times Travel Agency” series and several stories about Stanley, the adventuresome dog, Ontario artist Bill Slavin collaborates here with wife Esperança Melo to illustrate another kind of journey of the imagination.
Ellen Jackson’s simple rhyming text takes its protagonist, a rabbit bored by a long and tedious geography lesson, on a fabulous journey across the seven seas. Some are real (but not really):
The Red Sea looks like pizza sauce –
A little or a lottle.
The roosters dine on ladybugs
With ketchup from a bottle.
some totally imaginary:
The Pink Sea has flamingos
and cotton candy clouds,
and row and rows of sunburned toes
on sandal-wearing crowds.
At the end of this recitation, the noise of the roll-down map being furled in the classroom brings the main character back to reality. The last line takes readers from the exaggerations of the rabbit’s daydreaming to a rather heavy-handed attempt at pedagogy:
Yes I have seen the seven seas,
I’ve checked them off my list.
Can you surmise which ones are lies,
and which of them exist?
The last two spreads include a map of the world showing its seas and oceans, followed by a quiz and a page of ‘Fun Facts’.
Jackson has written a number of other books released by different publishers and has been favorably reviewed in major library journals. However, it is the pictures that carry this one. The rabbit uses a variety of modes of transportation to get around the globe and thence to explore his new surroundings. I especially liked the picture of the Yellow Sea in which the rabbit is floating in hollowed-out lemon rind and drinking from the water (or lemonade) through a straw. Lemon fish jump through the air, and lemon-slice parasols dot the lemon peel beach.
A humorous outing with a little lesson at the end. Recommended for school and public libraries.
Ellen Heaney is Head of Children’s Services at the New Westminster Public Library, New Westminster, BC.
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