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Serpent Came to Gloucester
Synopses & Reviews
Drawing on a true story, an award-winning author and illustrator present a picture-book tribute to the beauty and mystery of the ocean, and to the mesmerizing creatures that may frolic there.
It came from the sea, from the lonely sea,
It came from the glittering sea.
In a small Massachusetts fishing village in August of 1817, dozens of citizens claimed to have seen an enormous sea serpent swimming off the coast. Terrified at first, the people of Gloucester eventually became quite accustomed to their new neighbor. Adventure seekers came from miles around to study the serpent and aggressively hunt it down, but the creature eluded capture. The Gloucester sea serpent was then, and remains now, a complete mystery.
Reviving the rhythms and tone of a traditional sea chanty, M.T. Anderson recounts this exhilarating sea adventure through the eyes of a little boy who secretly hopes for the serpent's survival. The author's captivating verse is paired with Bagram Ibatoulline's luminous paintings, created in the spirit of nineteenth-century New England maritime artists.
"Anderson (Handel, Who Knew What He Liked) casts as a kind of sea chantey this reportedly true tale of a 19th-century sea serpent, spied by the people of Gloucester, Mass. 'It was on a day when the sun was bright/ When the limpets were thick on the rocks,' begins an unnamed boy's first-person narrative. The child spies the monster while hanging out the wash. Glass-green waves reveal a gargantuan, sinewy sea snake. 'My mother drew breath and looked paler than death./ I dropped all my socks in a heap.' The villagers quail, but the boy reassures them: ' 'Is it back in the deep?' 'Is it eating our sheep?'/ 'I think,' I said, 'that the serpent is playing.' ' The serpent, which cavorts offshore for weeks, becomes a tourist attraction. But the next summer's encore performance draws a lynch mob: 'They came with their peg legs and knives/ They vowed they would drown or would stab or would stifle/ The beast, if it cost them their lives.' The boy follows nervously, silently rooting for the sea serpent, and cheers the curious turn of events. Verses full of chuckles and gasps alternate with occasional stumbles (e.g., 'sulked' rhymed with 'caulked'). Ibatoulline's (The Animal Hedge) period gouaches, by contrast, sail straight and true; white spray, billowing waves, muted winter light all seem to shimmer with depth and feeling. Ages 6-10. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Based on a true story and set in a Massachusetts fishing village during the summer of 1817, this picture book pays tribute to the beauty and mystery of the ocean as it tells the story of the legendary Gloucester sea serpent. Full color.
About the Author
M.T. Anderson is the author of the celebrated picture book biography HANDEL, WHO KNEW WHAT HE LIKED, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. He is also the author of several young adult novels, most recently FEED, a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the LOS ANGELES TIMES Book Prize. Considering the existence of sea serpents, he says, "For generations, fishermen in places as distant as New England and Norway took for granted the existence of long snakelike animals in the North Atlantic. It takes a peculiar kind of snobbery to believe that men who worked on the sea all their lives — though illiterate — were by nature superstitious, confused, and gullible. Unlike those people who have seen Bigfoot. Whew, what a bunch of lunatics!" M.T. Anderson currently serves on the faculty at Vermont College's MFA Program in Writing for Children.
Bagram Ibatoulline was born in Russia, graduated from the State Academic Institute of Arts in Moscow, and has worked in the fields of fine arts, graphic arts, mural design, and textile design. He is the illustrator of several children's picture books, including CROSSING by Philip Booth, named an American Library Association Notable Children's Book, THE ANIMAL HEDGE by Paul Fleischman, a PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Best Children's Book of the Year, and, most recently, HANA IN THE TIME OF THE TULIPS Deborah Noyes.
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