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The traditional selkie story plays out in an arc of unrequited love and abandonment in this moody iteration.

Writing in terse prose cast into short lines, Virgo begins the story with the sailor going to sea as a boy but halfway through suddenly shifts point of view to that of the dreamy child born to the silent couple years later. The author shows similar indecision in describing the selkie’s garment. It is a “shadow” when the sailor steals it and a “roll of white skin” when the boy (rather than, as is more common, his mother) at last takes it down to the sea one night and swims “out under the old / moon’s path on the waters, leaving / his memories behind.” As if the sailor’s immoral act and the ensuing picture of failed domestic life in the narrative isn’t sad and remote enough, Pérez adds a full suite of subtly tinted sketches that depict either small, slumped figures in lonely landscapes or claustrophobic assemblages of floating bodies or heads, detached hands and surreal fish with human faces. As the lead victim, the selkie woman is most likely to draw sympathy from readers, but she is the least developed of the three central figures. Not much here for children, but the portentous atmosphere may prompt readers of the inked and pierced set to overlook the story’s overall lack of clarity or cohesion. (Folk tale. 14-18)


Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-88899-971-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Wyatt (The Science Book for Girls, 1997, etc.) adopts an alien’s-eye-view of earthlings, comparing the human body with that of a friendly lifeform from outer space. A cartoon anatomical outline charts the alien Danoid’s first encounter with Pete. Danoid labels hands as primary manipulatives, feet as planet connectors, and knees, multidirectional movement facilitators. Earthling skin, hair, brains, bones, muscles, and organs are measured by these compare-and-contrast standards, delivering information along the way. Sifting through a flurry of text, readers will stumble upon headings marked “Science Fair Ideas,” consisting of simple, at-home experiments such as tracking one’s pulse with a dab of modeling clay or smelling foods that have strong odors. While the concept is attention-getting, and often humorous, the actual information is often overwhelmed by distracting asides, experiments, and reports filed to Danoid’s commander; this compendium may be more worthwhile for browsers than researchers. (diagrams, index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-55074-511-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-32687-4

Page Count: 135

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999

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