________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 14 . . . . December 5, 2014


The Seven Seas.

Ellen Jackson. Illustrated by Bill Slavin & Esperança Melo.
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2011.
36 pp., hardcover, $16.00 (US).
ISBN 978-0-8028-5341-7.

Subject Headings:
Stories in rhyme.
Colour-Fiction. Imagination-Fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Julianne Mutimer.

** /4


My eyes were gazing at the map when Mrs. Martin said, “Now class, it’s time to try to find the Black Sea and the Red” … I thought I saw the seven seas; I wanted to explore. I went by train, by boat, by plane, and gazed on every shore.



A young bunny daydreams about exotic faraway lands – some real, some imaginary - during a geography lesson. The Seven Seas is a playful, rhythmic text with lots of colourful illustrations meant to get children learning about the world beyond their immediate borders. Jackson playfully introduces the concept of geography by embedding imagination into real places; for instance, “The Yellow Sea’s a mystery, a sight that’s worth the trip. They say it’s made of lemonade and quite all right to sip.” Jackson’s picture book has an almost Seuss-like feel in its bouncy, energetic, and somewhat silly delivery. It would be an appropriate title for teachers to share with a classroom as an introduction to the concept of geography. The Seven Seas is also narrated from the point of view of a child, making this brief and energetic introduction to the topic relatable for young readers.

     The Seven Seas is a picture book that could be readily used by educators, parents, librarians, and children, but it doesn’t necessarily stand out amongst the many other competing picture books on the market. Additionally, where the whimsical nature of the text is one of its strengths, parents and educators will have to be careful to dispel confusion about parts of the text that are fictional. The back of the book contains four informational pages to enhance its informational qualities, including: a map of the world’s oceans and seas, fun facts, and information about what a sea is – this section could support the factual digestion of the book.

     While the bright colourful nature of Slavin and Melo’s illustrations is lovely, the crayon-like quality of them – while soft – is less than dazzling and missed the mark in really complementing the text. The Seven Seas is valuable title for its lively qualities, and its somewhat more unique subject matter (there are so many picture books about animals). While it is not necessarily a shining star on the many shelves of picture books to choose from in libraries, it is a nice title to have nonetheless.


Julianne Mutimer is a children’s librarian with Surrey Libraries in Surrey, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

CM Home | Next Review | Table of Contents for This Issue - December 5, 2014 | Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive