Monday, August 11, 2014

Nonfiction Monday: Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox, illustrated by Brian Floca

I am going to say, right up front, that I am not a fan of Brian Floca. I did like Locomotive, but it was in spite of the art, not because of it. I realize I am in a tiny, tiny minority here, and I can objectively recognize his artistic merit, but I, personally, don't find his style of watercolors attractive and the books he works on tend to fall in that amorphous area of picture books for older elementary readers, which are almost impossible to circulate at my library.

All that being said, I actually rather liked this book. This is the true story of an elephant seal who decided that she preferred living in the freshwater Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand, instead of the ocean. Attempts made to relocate her were repeatedly unsuccessfully as she returned even after being relocated hundreds of miles away and taking months to swim back. After the last time she returned, the city gave in and put up signs for an elephant seal crossing. A final note gives additional facts and information about elephant seals and includes a photo of the actual Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas. Cox's text is simple and informative, but also has a poetic warmth and a feeling of triumph as Elizabeth stubbornly refuses to leave the place she considers home.

I don't know exactly why I liked these pictures so much more than Floca's other illustrations. Something about the soft greens and blues and the feeling of peace and contentment that Elizabeth radiates just really grabbed me. The final full-page spread of Elizabeth, gliding up the river in the moonlight, the weeping willows gracefully draping over the banks of the river, is perfect.

Verdict: This is still pretty long for a picture book and probably won't circulate as much as the typical picture books I purchase, but if you have the budget and audience I definitely recommend it. I'm putting it on my wishlist in hopes that I'll have the budget for it later on, as I think the animal aspect will really draw in kids, even those who would normally be reluctant to pick up a picture book or too wiggly for a book of this length.

ISBN: 9780375858888; Published 2014 by Schwartz & Wade; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Added to my library's wishlist

1 comment:

Miss Michelle said...

I agree with you 100%! The serene portrayal of Elizabeth is great. I really liked the book, but similar to you, these types are difficult to circulate in my library.