The familiar Scottish/Irish tale of a crofter who captures and marries a seal maiden whose beauty and magical singing have entraced him. Old Thomas tells Donallan he will be able to catch the selkie only by stealing her sealskin when she's taken the form of a maiden, "but a wild creature will always go back to the wild, in the end." Donallan is too much in love to heed. The resulting union is tranquil; "Mairi" smiles when she bears her first child, and four more follow; yet she never laughs or sings. At last the youngest discovers the sealskin, carefully preserved. When Mairi tells her children that she has five more children in the sea, her younger daughter says, "You must go to them. It's their turn." Cooper's economical, elegant retelling has such a lovely lilt that it begs to be read aloud. Hutton's serene watercolors perfectly evoke the lonely sea and shore, a primitive world where elemental events are given their tree importance. His pictures are deceptively simple, as simple as the blue/green inside curve of the towering breaker on the book's penultimate double spread, but with as much power, inner tension, and beauty.