First the male elephant seals come to the island, and ""wait to mate."" A month later the females arrive, and ""soon the females give birth to pups""--but didn't the author skip something? Her omission of the mating itself is all the more perplexing in light of a later incident in which a big bull rushes to Rita (the featured female), squashing pups to death as he goes and pushing Rita's pup Basil away. ""The bull mates with Rita. Then he leaves. Basil goes back to his mother."" But the failure to link the mating with the births is characteristic of Shaw's laxness. At the very start she notes that the first bull is 14-feet long, but offers no comparisons for children who might have trouble visualizing 14 feet. Her short, stiff sentences are plopped down on the pages with no sense of what might engage young readers; and Cherryl Pape's renditions of a dead-looking elephant seal population are as unattractive as that mating bull's behavior.