cover image Seal Surfer

Seal Surfer

Michael Foreman. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (36pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201399-8

Foreman's (The Little Ships, reviewed below) calm, inconspicuous prose follows a boy and a seal through three years of seasonal changes. It begins one springtime, when Ben, hunting for mussels with his granddad, spots a newborn seal nuzzling her mother on the rocks. By the second summer, Ben is riding the waves alongside his whiskered friend. And when the third spring ""brought Ben but not his grandfather,"" the boy is consoled by the appearance of the seal's own pup. Eventually, he imagines the day when he will bring his own grandchildren to watch the seals. The watercolor illustrations, while depicting the sea's changing moods, also reveal something the text does not mention: the boy leans on crutches or rides in a wheelchair. Foreman fills the narrative with dramatic episodes--the seal saves the boy from drowning; harsh winter storms imperil all the seals--but he keeps the tension loose, the momentum steady, thereby emphasizing the preeminence of the life cycles that shape his story. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)