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TO KNOW THE SEA

Author: Frances Gilbert

Illustrator: Rhett Ransom Pennell

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Publisher: Greene Bark Press,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Princess Isola is unhappy. As a result, everyone in the kingdom is unhappy, too. Isola wants only one thing: to experience the sea. But no one knows how to bring the sea to the mountain kingdom. When the queen offers a reward for the first person to bring the Sea to the Princess, several men try to do just that. Will any of them succeed? This is a picture book that encourages kids to stay faithful to their dream ... and not close any paths, even if they seem to be

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, read aloud book, learning to read

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 5 to 10

Interest Level: 4 to 9

Age of Child: Started reading with 5½-year-old child.

Young Reader Reaction: Our child paged through this book several times, and was reticent to let us read it. She was put off by the snarling sisters, and didn't want us to read a story about people acting ugly. Even after we convinced her to learn the whole story, she was concerned about how the sisters acted. When asked what she liked about the story, she said "The old man, because he helped the princess."

Adult Reader Reaction: Hooray! A story about a princess that doesn't come from Disney, has her own dreams, thinks for herself, and has no Disney princess association. We were a little surprised by our child's reaction to the illustrations. The sneering sisters are the "background" of the graphics; but clearly, she was taking in the whole scene.

Pros: This is a refreshing fairy tale that mimics some of the classics. There are lessons to be learned, creative thinking and problem solving, and not a sword or a gun to be seen.

Cons: None, with the exception of the tantrum in the beginning.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. For parents who want to raise princesses who think for themselves, aren't swayed by the crowd, then this is a nice alternative.

If You Liked This Book, Try: THE BEE-MAN OF ORN   THE SEA CHEST   STORIES OF PRINCES AND PRINCESSES (Usborne Young Reading: Series One)

Educational Themes: There are lots of ways to play with this story, because it has several levels. It shows the importance of being true to your dreams, but it also demonstrates that reaching your goal may not (a) be the path you envisioned; or (b) look the way you thought it would. There is an excellent lesson about the learning that goes into becoming an "expert" is great, as well. We often think of practice and athletics; but this book introduces the learning required of true seafarers, too.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, nature, fairy tale

Date(s) Reviewed: May 2007

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