Originally published in 1968 with illustrations by William Stobbs, a smoothly-told selchie story reshaped as a parable of a youth leaving his parents. A fisherman—who, with his wife, has long yearned for a child—takes home an orphaned seal that becomes a boy. Fearful that "Greyling" will return to the sea, the wife withholds him from it for 15 years, until his adopted father's boat is wrecked in a terrible storm. Greyling rescues the fisherman, but never returns to land. True to their gender prototypes, the wife has expressed her grief at being childless while her husband "kept his sorrow to himself so that his wife would not know his grief and thus double her own"; again, it is she who clings to the boy and her husband who first points out that Greyling has "Gone where his heart calls...this way is best." Ray's art is heroically powerful, the sculptural forms so sturdily defined that they seem to have congealed, though the figures (especially the seal) do reveal some tenderness. The stylized waves seem unnaturally stiff for such a watery tale, but the overall effect is decorative, even handsome. A worthwhile variant on a tried-and-true formula. (Fiction. 4-10)

Pub Date: May 31, 1991

ISBN: 0-399-22262-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991


The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001


A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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