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Selkie Girl, The Paperback – March 30, 1991

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

About this retelling of the haunting Scottish folktale, PW said, "The lyrical text weaves a tale of sweeping dimension; this is storytelling at its finest. Particularly lovely are Hutton's sensitive and muted watercolors." All ages.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3 Both Mordicai Gerstein (The Seal Mother Dial, 1986) and Susan Cooper have retold the folktale of the Selkie who is forced to live among mortals. In Cooper's version, Donallan falls in love with one of three beautiful naked selkie-maidens that he sees sitting on the rocks. Stealing her sealskin so that she cannot return to the sea, he marries her. Although she bears his five children, whom she loves deeply, she longs for her home and her family in the sea. At last she learns where her skin is hidden and, putting it on, dives joyously into the waves. But every year, Donallan and his children go down to the sea and when they return, there is "a look on their faces like sunlight." Cooper retells this ancient folktale from the coastal regions of Ireland and Scotland in a simple, direct storybook style, which, while lacking some of the exquisite beauty and flowing language of an Eva LaGalliene, still captures enough of the essence to appeal to young readers. Hutton's watercolors match and extend Cooper's narrative in the best traditional "picture story book" fashion, and if both fall slightly short of the haunting and timeless quality possible in such a tale, they still create a story to capture and hold the young. Yet Gerstein's book, grounded in familial love, is the more appealing version. Constance A. Mellon, Department of Library & Information Studies, East Carolina University , Greenville, N.C.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 30 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; Reprint edition (March 30, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068971467X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689714672
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mermaids get all the good press. Heck, you can't throw a dart in a crowded library without hitting five or six children's books all dedicated to those fishy sea ladies. But what about selkie women? When do they get their due? Few books about selkies actually make them out to be women, as it happens. The men get, "A Stranger Came Ashore" and "Island of the Aunts", for example. Female selkies appear in "Daughter of the Sea", but not much else. So it was with great joy that I located not only a selkie book starring a woman, but a picture book at that. "The Selkie Girl" is your classic tale of abduction, male dominance, and naked women. Everything a picture book could aspire to. It is written by children's literature demi-god Susan Cooper (known best for her "The Dark Is Rising" stories), and illustrated by fellow Brit Warwick Hutton. It is a lovely little work.

Donallan lives alone by the sea with his cat and his dog and his sheep. It's a lonely life and Donallan longs for some company. One day, while scrounging for seaweed, he is enchanted by the song of three lovely naked women singing on a nearby rock. When he tries to investigate, however, they dive into the waves and become seals or selkies. An elderly man living near Donallan tells the young man how to catch one of the women as his bride. He must come on the same day one year from now and before the woman can grab it, steal her seal skin. Then she'll be bound to follow Donallan home. He does, she does, and they have five kids. Until, one day, their youngest son catches his father removing a lovely long sealskin from a mysterious brick behind their house...

Cooper, quite frankly, should do more picture books. This particular one contains all her lovely turns of phrase and particular lilts.
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This book was amazing to me the first time I read it and continues to touch me deeply....so much so that I just spent $90. for an old used copy so that I could own it and return to it again and again. It is the story of all women, women who are taken from their true selves to serve others, in places that are foreign to their souls. And, of course, the story of her return. A children's book, but one that speaks to all ages. Magical. Timeless. I have heard that this story has been told in many languages for many hundreds of years. I would welcome any information that anyone has about this.
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One of my all-time favorites, tells a great story with no blame for the characters' actions, just a realistic set of choices with an ending that is belivable about how to live with two very different families. Very evocative.
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Love this book. Great story! The illustrations are amazing. However, the copy I got was from a library somewhere and they had the stickers on and everything. Some of the stickers were in less than convenient places, but I won't hold that against the book itself!
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This story was a favorite of my children when they were younger. I wanted to find it for my grandchildren and I was very happy when I found it on Amazon. This story is so well written and you can really identify with the characters and the love for his sealwife. When she returns to the sea, leaving her land-children behind, it is very emotional. Only a good author can do that to a reader. I recommend this book to anyone who has elementary school-aged children.
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A haunting story for readers grades 6 and up. Story of a mother's difficult choice that has profound effect on her family. A good story for these times when children may be raised by someone other than their mother.
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Susan Cooper's spare, lyrical language and beautiful watercolor illustrations bring this haunting legend to life. It's bittersweet, but children will be gladdened by its portrait of a mother who loves all her children, "five on the land and five in the sea."
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In this retelling of this magical Scottish folktale, Mordicai Gerstein and Susan Cooper tell of the Selkie (maiden of the sea) who is compelled to live among mortals. When Donallan sees a beautiful naked selkie on the rocks, he falls in love with her and steals her sealskin so she can no longer live in the sea. He marries her, and she bears him five children. But she longs for her sea home and family. At last she finds her skin, and is able to return to the sea. This lovely book will appeal to all ages - 3-adult. A Publishers Weekly review said of it, "The lyrical text weaves a tale of sweeping dimension; this is storytelling at its finest. Particularly lovely are Hutton's sensitive and muted watercolors."
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