This poetic picture book reads forward and backward, revealing two narratives about sharing and welcoming.
“This rock is ours,” declares a trio of seals. But what does “ours” really mean? Washy, blue and gray illustrations of a watery landscape span full spreads as a group of gently anthropomorphized seals confronts an outsider seal and its pup. Pops of color include green sprigs, pink sea stars, and yellow beaks and feet on observing sea gulls. The seals’ facial expressions feel a little mismatched with the text in the first read—perhaps as a result of the challenge of creating two narratives with one set of illustrations and words. The initial front-to-back reading witnesses the group of seals shooing the seal-and-pup pair away even though the duo has nowhere to go. The final page reads: “No room on this rock? Can it be true? / Read back to front for another point of view.” Reading the book backward, readers find a story of welcoming using the same text in reverse. For one-on-one sharing or a read-aloud with an engaged group of children, the chance to re-explore the book from back to front to derive different meaning is an opportunity for playful reflection. Large, simple black text throughout employs italics for direct emphasis. The narrative around sharing and welcoming can be scaled for diverse age groups.
Gently clever. (Picture book. 4-7)