THE SEA-THING CHILD by Russell Hoban
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"The wind was howling, the sea was wild, and the night was black when the storm flung the sea-thing child up on the beach." And though the creature is never identified or described or pictured, you learn all that matters from his deliberate construction of a sea-stone igloo beside "seaweed-bearded rocks" and from his delightfully grave and childlike conversations with his friend the fiddler crab (who enters "yelling in a thin and whispery voice, 'Oh, if only I had a bow, what music I could play!' ") and with a passing eel and albatross -- distinctly realized and differentiated in impressively little space. The eel on his departure ("clear the runway, I'm taking off") advises, "Mind what l say, and get off the beach before you go barmy and start building stone igloos," and at last, though he had feared "the deepness and the darkness and the farness of the sea. . .and the ocean being so big and me so small," the sea-thing child "soar(s) up into the night and away into the storm over the ocean he was born in." This tiny book (with fewer than 27 5" by 7" pages of text and a few small black and white sketches that merely echo the mood and suggest the setting) is probably what the word exquisite should have been saved for, and only Hoban could bring it off.
Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1972
ISBN: 0744578264
Page count: 45pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1972


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