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Review of Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas

cox_elizabeth queen of the seasElizabeth, Queen of the Seas
by Lynne Cox; illus. by Brian Floca
Preschool, Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    48 pp.
5/14    978-0-375-85888-8    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-375-95888-5    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-375-98769-4    $10.99

Renowned long-distance swimmer Cox here celebrates a swimmer of a different species: a twelve-hundred-pound elephant seal that preferred the warm banks of the Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand, to the ocean’s cold saltwater and the company of her fellow seals on the beach. Unfortunately, “Elizabeth” (named for the queen of England) sometimes hauled herself up onto the city’s roads and obstructed traffic; accordingly, she was repeatedly relocated, only to return. Her third re-appearance, after several months and from hundreds of miles away, prompted a welcome new strategy: an “elephant seal crossing” road sign. Sticking to the facts as related to her by a couple of children, Cox ties her appealing narrative together with their affection for this intriguing, if problematic, individual. Details of elephant seal behavior are nicely amplified in an afterword, which includes a photo of the real Elizabeth, drowsing streetside. Floca limns creatures and people with a spare but agile pen, nicely conveying Elizabeth’s contentment and placid persistence; spacious sweeps of watercolor evoke sea, sky, and Christchurch’s inviting, well-peopled park. A good story, a beautiful book, and an excellent introduction to this massive species.

From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Joanna Rudge Long About Joanna Rudge Long

Joanna Rudge Long is former editor of Kirkus Reviews and a frequent lecturer on children’s books.

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