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THE SEAL MOTHER by Mordicai Gerstein



Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Dial/Dutton

The Selkie legend is given a mildly entertaining treatment in this picture-book version, Told by an old man met playing the fiddle on Midsummer's Eve, the story contains the familiar clements. A fisherman, entranced by a woman who has emerged from a sealskin to dance and sing at Midsummer, hides her skin and promises that he will return it after seven years if she will marry him. She consents; they marry and have a son, Andrew. When the man cannot bring himself to give up his wife, Andrew finds the skin and returns it to her; she returns to her people after showing him the world under the sea. Thereafter, every Midsummer, Andrew and his family celebrate with the seals. This pedestrian telling does not haunt or stick in the memory. Gerstein's pictures, in blues and violets and greens, touched occasionally with gold, are effective in color and perspective, but the images are stiff. Adequate, but a poor second to Cooper's gentle version (see above).