Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book Review, There Was an Old Sailor

Here's a new picture book that's the perfect combination of delightful story and quirky illustrations. There Was an Old Sailor was written by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Cassandra Allen, and published by Walker Books Australia (2010).

Kids love cumulative stories and will revel in this tale of an old sailor - a burly type who obviously has an immense capacity for seafood!

There was an old sailor
who swallowed a krill
I don't know why
he swallowed the krill
It'll make him ill.

After the krill, he swallows a jellyfish, then more, and more, until...well, we all knew it would make him ill! Saxby's simple rhythmic story is ideal for child/audience participation. I can see this book being performed by classes everywhere, as well as becoming a begged for read-aloud at home. The repetitive text of this cumulative story is so good for young listener/readers. They can predict the text without necessarily being able to "read" each word, and new words introduced all have picture clues to help.

I love the way Allen has depicted the salty old sailor. Far from being a scary creature, he is a gentle giant with kind eyes. Allen engages our sense of touch with wonderful texture, and delights us with the contrast of solid forms and shapes, juxtaposed with flowing detail.

The book is beautifully designed. Another feature I liked is a double page of Fishy Facts after the story, adding interest and value for children to enjoy. There Was an Old Sailor is an excellent choice for libraries, especially schools needing literature for environmental units or studies of The Sea, and also for families who want a humorous tale that can be read over and over again. 

I've previously reviewed and very much enjoyed Claire Saxby's Sheep, Goat and the Creaking Gate here at The Book Chook.

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