Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Seal Song

Spalding, Andrea (Author)
Milelli, Pascal (Illustrator)
Orca 2011. 32 pages
First published: 2011
ISBN: 9781554692422 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, point of view, setting

Award

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award – Finalist – 2012

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Finn works in a west coast cannery with his father. He is drawn to the calls of seals and their world—deep under water. One day, he comes across a seal tangled in old fishing net and cuts her loose: “Heart pounding, plunging, lunging. Knife flashing, frenzied slashing, tangles binding. Hands ripping, strands parting, finally freeing.” Finn wishes the seal could stay on land, but his father is suspicious, “No good comes from seal songs.” When a strange girl named Sheila turns up on the docks, the fishermen are certain she is a selkie; a shape shifter who is a seal in human form. An unusual friendship blossoms between Sheila and Finn, until an act of selflessness forces her to return to the sea.

Based on a Celtic legend, the text moves between narrative voice and rhythmic free verse. The world of the adults on land is told in clear-cut prose, while the inner world of the boy and his relationship to the sea spills across the page in italicized poetry.

Imagery works beautifully to reinforce the storytelling with evocative oil paintings in muted blues, greens and browns.

This haunting and beautiful folktale explores the power of sacrifice and friendship.

  •  

    Describe what you observe on the front endpaper illustration. Read the book description and make predictions about the story.

  •  

    How does the author foreshadow events to come? Identify ominous dialogue and events that lead you to make predictions about the plot.

  •  

    The book is written in narrative and poetic verse. Work in a small group to create a choral interpretation of the poetic verse. Reread and insert your interpretations between the sections of narration.

  •  

    Write a letter from Sheila to Finn (or vice versa). Use your imagination to reflect on how she became a selkie and what happened to her before and after the story.

  •  

    Make a class list of vocabulary words about fishing villages. Add to the list as the story is read aloud.

  •  

    Create a character map for each of the three main characters (Finn, his father and Sheila).

  •  

    With a partner, draw a story map and compare it with another group's mat. Add missing details in a different colour.

  •  

    As a class, discuss the verse structure. Why does everything end with -ing?

  •  

    From the elements in this story, deduce the characteristics of a folk tale.

  • To cooperate with others
  • To use creativity
  • Citizenship and Community Life