________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2000

cover A Seal in the Family.

Maria Coffey. Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 1999.
32 pp., pbk. & cloth, $7.95 (pbk.), $17.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-580-6 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-581-4 (cl.).

Subject Heading:
Harbour seal-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.
Review by Helen Arkos.

**** /4


"...Teelo crept along the beach toward the rock that was crying so sadly. He stretched out a paw, but before he could touch it, the rock rolled over...and he saw silvery whiskers, a gray speckled coat and soft brown eyes. This wasn't a rock at all, but a young seal pup."
image And so into the lives of Teelo, the cat, and Victor, her veterinarian owner, comes a poor abandoned seal pup. Their little cottage on Cloud Island seems hardly able to take in one more creature. This snug little house, filled with animals that Victor the Vet had brought home in his kayak, is about to be turned upside down.


"Victor looked for a place to put the seal pup. He couldn't put her under the wood stove, because that was Teelo's spot. He couldn't put her in the dog basket, because Terry the terrier might chew on her flippers. He couldn't put her on the window seat because Sylvie the snake might squeeze her too tightly. He couldn't put her in the hen box, because Ruby the rooster might make a fuss. And he could put her in the kitchen sink because it was full of dirty dishes. So her put her in the bathtub."

And what else do you name an abandoned baby seal but Lucille? The following days and weeks are occupied with Victor's neglecting all his other pets in the attempt to keep Lucille supplied with the fresh fish needed by a growing pup. One illustration, in particular, of Victor, unshaven and unkempt, feeding Lucille in the bathtub, while the floor is strewn with fish skeletons, shows the change that has come over the entire household.

When Victor decides it is time to reintroduce Lucille to the ocean where she belongs, she is terrified and dashes back to the security of her bathtub. He comes up with a plan to entice her back into the water, and Lucille is soon in her element.

A few years later when Teelo discovers another "gray stone" on the beach, the story comes full circle. This one turns out to be a baby seal belonging to Lucille who has left her on the beach while she goes out fishing.

The story is enhanced by the bright and warmly appealing illustrations painted by Eugenie Fernandes. The characters, both human and animal, are animated in their expressions throughout the story.

Highly Recommended.

Helen Arkos is the teacher-librarian at John Pritchard School in Winnipeg, MB.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364