CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 6. . . . November 15, 2002
One lonely lighthouse
Two giant freighters
There's definitely a rhythm present in A Pod of Orcas, Sheryl McFarlane's seaside counting book. It's the rhythm of the sea, making itself known in the steady beat of her words, as spare, even and expressive as the surf that laps the shore. It's also the rhythms of the day, of work and of play, which moves from pre-dawn calm into a hum of increasing activity as the day progresses, and peaks, magnificently, as "a super pod of orcas explodes the glassy sea." On the count down, McFarlane revisits the same activities, winding each down for the day with the same surety that governs the rising and setting of the sun, and the ebb and flow of the tides.
An award-winning author living on Canada's West Coast, where orcas are known to play, McFarlane shows a deep understanding of the mesmerizing calm that steals over a watcher through the course of a day by the sea. She also captures perfectly the perspective of a parent-child pair exploring the vista from sky to sea to shore and whose attention lights on each and every detail: the boats, the seals, the eagles, the orcas, the other kids at play.
Illustrator Kirsti Anne Wakelin incorporates the same awareness in the huge panoramas that cover most of each spread. Each mood, be it playful, pensive or electrifying, is emphasized by the simple effect of zooming in and out. Her gentle watercolours are perfectly in tune with the text, and both bring to life an enviable West Coast lifestyle.
Cora Lee is a Vancouver, BC, writer and editor.
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