Friday, October 4, 2013

See What a Seal Can Do by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Kate Nelms

Let's face it - the seal on the cover of this book is simply irresistible, isn't it?  Well, I couldn't resist it and I am glad that I couldn't.  I learned a lot about seals in See What a Seal Can Do.  First, in a note at the beginning of the book, I learned that the cute seals I used to watch swimming around at the Prospect Park Zoo weren't seals at all, they were sea lions. and now I know how to spot the difference.  Next, I learned that there are 18 different kinds of seals, but this is a picture book about one kind of seal - the gray seal.  I found out about these things even before I even began reading the book.  So you can imagine what I learned by the time I finished the book.

In See What a Seal Can Do, Chris Butterworth follows one seal as it makes its way from the beach to the sea to get a little something to eat.  As this adorable seal dives down into the sea, the reader gets of privileged look into his underwater life as it swims down as far as 300 feet, weaving its way through sea vegetation, looking for food.

As the gray seal swims, Butterworth describes, all in child-friendly language, just how the seal swims and survives in the ocean despite being a mammal.  For example, did you know that a seal's fur coat keeps him waterproof while swimming, and that a seal can slow its heartbeat to 4 beats a minute to conserve oxygen.  There is all kinds of information packed into this charming nonfiction picture book and is sure to delight any child interested in seal life.

Butterworth's interesting factual text about seal life is accompanied by wonderfully detailed mixed-media illustrations by Kate Nelms, a natural history artist.  See What a Seal Can Do may be her first children's book, but with illustrations of the caliber found here, it certainly won't be her last.  And be sure to look at the end papers in the front and back of the book.  Remember Butterworth said there are 18 different kinds of seals?  Well, they are all drawn there for you to see.

There was one thing that bothered me about this book.  On most of the pages, there is more information about seals written in smaller, lighter type that can sometimes be hard to read against the dark background where it was placed.  I have good eyesigh, but I had to hold the book under a light to see some of it.  Perhaps a bolder, more contrasting color would have worked better.

Other than that, I think this is a wonderful book for budding naturalists and anyone else who can't resist a cute face.

This book is recommended for readers aged 4+
This book was borrowed from a friend

This is book 11 of my 2013 Nonfiction Picture Book Reading Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy

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