CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 8. . . .October 22, 2010.
Lobster in My Pocket.
Deirdre Kessler. Illustrated by Brenda Jones.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2010.
32 pp., pbk., $8.95.
Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.
Review by Myra Junyk.
Lee picked up the lobster and took the wide bands from its front claws. Then she tucked the lobster in her pocket, and walked towards the end of the wharf.
"Will you be my friend?" she asked.
The lobster waved its antennae and answered.
Yes, I'll be your friend, girl.
If you'll only set me free.
Yes, I'll tell a tale, girl,
Share a secret of the sea.
Lee was delighted with her new pal. She sat with her legs dangling off the wharf and listened spellbound as the lobster told her stories of the sea.
First published in 1987, Lobster in My Pocket, tells the story of Lee who lives in a Maritime fishing village. She is often lonely because there no children nearby and her school friends live far away. She is not allowed to have a dog, and her cat, Nosey, has disappeared. She loves her grandma who takes care of her, but Lee wishes that she had a friend.
One day on her parents' boat, she hears a voice pleading with her to "Set me free!" Lee discovers a tiny lobster and puts him in her pocket. The two become friends. Even though Lee sets the lobster free, she often "talks" to it. When a terrible storm sweeps her into the seething ocean, Lee is rescued by her friend - the lobster.
This fantasy tale of a lonely young girl finding friendship with a talkative lobster provides a great deal of information about Maritime life. The details about a fishing family are fascinating, as are the descriptions of the shoreline, the wharf and the village. The fantasy element of stories about Neptune's kingdom under the sea is an added bonus. Young readers will be definitely be able to relate to Lee's loneliness and her desire to make a friend.
This new version of Lobster in My Pocket, with its colourful pictures, will visually engage readers. Brenda Jones depicts the characters realistically while using a pleasing pastel palette for the Maritime setting. The dark brownish red lobster stands out prominently against the more muted background of the fishing village. Although the colourful illustrations have definitely made this picture book more appealing, the layout of the text, which runs into the illustrations, could have been improved in this new edition.
This picture book would be a wonderful starting point for discussions about Maritime life, mythology, fishing, loneliness and friendship. Teachers and caregivers could use it as a read-aloud for young children. In a classroom setting, the lobster's rhyming words would also be a great tool for shared reading. In addition, students could discuss or write about the lessons they have learned from Lee's experiences by answering questions such as, "What makes you happy?" "Why are friends vital?" "Why is it important to be kind to animals?"
Myra Junyk, a literacy advocate and author, lives in Toronto, ON.
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