Friday, January 9, 2015

PPBF: The Sea Chest

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The Sea Chest, by Toni Buzzeo and Mary Grandpre
The Sea Chest
Written by Toni Buzzeo
Illustrated by Mary GrandPre
Dial Books, 2002
Fiction, grades K-3
word count 1070

Siblings, Adoption, Legends

"City lights flicker in the dusk like winking fireflies.
I hold my Auntie Maita's papery hand. Together we stare at the shiny photo in her lap, touched so often with hope, the edges curl."

A lonely girl, daughter of lighthouse keepers, wishes for companionship. Her wish washes ashore the morning after a fateful storm when the family discovers a baby tucked inside a sea chest. The sisters grow up to share the delights of the island and the joys of sisterhood. The story is based on a Maine legend, but the author skillfully weaves together a second storyline about the descendants of the orphaned baby and a new adoption about to take place.

What I Love:
I love how the author flashes back to the legendary scene, and how she has drawn on her own sibling experience to speak to children awaiting a new baby. She knows precisely the loneliness of the island girl. She understands, too, the anticipation and anxiety felt by a family expecting a child through adoption. Mary Grandpre captures the wind and waves and nostalgia so needed for this book with her sweeping colors. Her somewhat exaggerated style is toned down here to give The Sea Chest a ring of truth.

The manuscript for The Sea Chest won the Barbara Karlin Grant in 2000.


Courtesy Coastal Living
1.You may want to read this touching interview with Toni Bizzeo by Cynthia Leitich Smith.
2. For more information, read the Kirkus review of The Sea Chest.
3. You can find more about the 19th century Legend on which this story is based, at PBS.
4. Visit Hendricks Head Light where the story takes place.
5. Try your hand at a gingerbread lighthouse like this one from Coastal Living.
6. If you enjoyed this book, here are a few more Perfect Picture Books you might enjoy.

Reviewed by Jarm
Reviewed by GatheringBooks
Reviewed by Erik

Reviewed by Diane
Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for January 9, 2015, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. What a treasure of a book! I love this share today. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, so I imagine the illustrations are beautiful. This is a story I'd savor. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Oh, wow, Joanne! This book looks and sounds amazing! I was adopted, so I always like reading stories about adoption. And I recently read The Light Between Oceans... a grown-up book but also about a baby found from the sea. Thanks so much for sharing this one - I'll have to hope my library has it!

    1. Really? I didn't know that! So did you like The Light Between Two Oceans? I've been meaning to pick that up.

  3. This sounds like a pretty unique story with some lovely illustrations. I'll be checking it out. Thanks!

  4. This looks absolutely lovely and mystical and mysterious. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. I don't know about mystical, but it is definitely enchanting. Thank, Joanne.

  5. I agree this book sounds amazing on multiple levels. Looking forward to reading it.

    1. It's a wonderful kid's book, and I think it has a lot to offer us as writers.

  6. This sounds so wonderful - like a fairy tale and a wish and something that just might happen. Definitely on my list.

    1. I feel like I want to write your lyrical comment on my wall, "Life is like a fairy tale and a wish . . ." Thanks.


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