Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Sea Serpent and Me

Slater, Dashka. 2008. THE SEA SERPENT AND ME. Ill. by Catia Chien. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618723942 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

In this first-person narrative, a little girl makes an unexpected friend when a sea serpent drops out of the faucet in her tub: “He was a very beautiful sea serpent, so small I could hold him in my hands.” The sea serpent takes up residence in the girl’s fish tank next to her bed until he outgrows it and moves to the tub. Each day the girl vows to return the serpent to the sea soon. Each day the serpent continues to grow: “Once I was as small as a drop of rain,” he says. “Soon I’ll be as big as a wave.”

Eventually the girl realizes it’s time to take her ever growing friend home. Although she has been delaying the goodbye, she finds herself calming her friend’s fears about returning to the sea. Chien’s paintings, in shades of watery green, blend both the whimsy and the poetry of Slater’s descriptions of the deep: “where manta rays swim like dancing blankets and there are crabs with antlers and fish shaped like guitars.” The girl waits patiently with her friend until he says “I’m ready to go.” Young children will identify with this picture book’s reassuring message about growing up.

This book provides an opportunity to discuss the challenge of separating from people and things we love. Think about times when it was difficult to say goodbye to a friend or a family member. Share ideas about the importance of saying goodbye.

Other books dealing with separation:
Penn, Audrey. THE KISSING HAND. ISBN 9781933718002
Viorst, Judith. THE GOOD-BYE BOOK. ISBN 9780689715815
Woodson, Jacqueline. COMING ON HOME SOON. ISBN 9780399237485

By Suzy Parchman

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