cover image The Gulls of the Edmund Fitzgerald

The Gulls of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Tres Seymour. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-09509-6

In Mama Makes Up Her Mind, author Bailey White tells how she taught elementary-age children to read with a book about the Titanic-her classes loved the tragic tale. Perhaps Seymour (Hunting the White Cow) has the same mission in mind with this volume, which aims to haunt readers with the sunken ships of Lake Superior. A boy intending to wade along the shore is warned by seagulls, ""Don't go near! Don't go near the water!... Superior has a hunger."" The gulls list several craft that vanished beneath the lake's violent surface, and the boy thinks twice about dipping his toes. Seymour sets an appropriate spine-tingling mood, but the climactic references to the wreck of the Fitzgerald lack the detail needed to call forth the gooseflesh-the author doesn't even provide the year of the accident (1975, according to the flap copy). Although the angry-eyed birds claim a bond with the ship (""We are the gulls of the Edmund Fitzgerald!""), they never explain whether, as sailing lore might have it, they're the ghosts of the crew. In his debut as an illustrator, Seymour supplies collages with grainy black-and-white images of ships and uncomplicated cut-paper figures in shades of sea green, gull gray and bright yellow. Skull-like faces of humans and of a gull appear in the foam on the waves, providing a mildly chilling touch. For a spookier take on ghostly galleons, see Jane Yolen's and David Shannon's The Ballad of the Pirate Queen (Children's Forecasts, Apr. 17, 1995). Ages 5-8. (Mar.)