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list price: $19.95
also available: eBook
category: Children's Fiction
published: April 2018
publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Swimming With Seals

by Maggie De Vries, illustrated by Janice Kun

tagged: alternative family, multigenerational

Ally isn't able to live with her mother. Instead she lives far, far away, on the other side of the country, with her gram and great-aunt. But one summer Ally goes to stay with her aunt and uncle in the "big city by the ocean" and gets to spend time with her mom. While exploring the shore, watching whales from the boat dipping into the salty water, Ally finds out something important: her mother loves to swim as much as she does.

This is a very personal story. Ally is based on the author’s niece, Jeanie, and Ally's mother is based on the author's sister, Sarah, who went missing from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver in 1998. Jeanie is like a seal in the water, and Sarah was just the same, but they never got to swim together. In this story, they do. Swimming with Seals is a story that was written for the thousands of children who long to live with their birth parents and will never fully understand why they can't.

About the Authors

Maggie De Vries

Maggie de Vries is the author of many books for children and one book for adults. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at UBC, runs writing workshops, and coaches and mentors writers. Maggie now lives in Ladysmith, British Columbia, on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Every summer, she and her husband spend as much time as they can tootling around the Gulf Islands and up the coast in their little old boat, Breakaway. For more information, visit www.maggiedevries.com.

Janice Kun is an illustrator whose work is a distinctive multimedia blend of drawing, collage, digital and photographic elements. Her organic constructions reflect the dynamic energy of nature, combined with the lyricism of music and found street art. Janice's approach has created lush and tactile illustrations for magazine editorials, postage stamps, book covers and advertising campaigns. Janice is based in Toronto, Ontario, with roots in the Maritime provinces and southeast China. When not in her studio, she can be found hiking through the woods, hanging out by a lake or roaming through the city with her camera.
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
6 to 8
p to k
Reading age:
3 to 5
Editorial Reviews

"The lovely artwork, done using pencil, watercolors, and photographic elements combined in Photoshop, perfectly complement this unique story… A teacher or parent might use this story as a starting point in discussing how different families can be."

— Youth Services Book Review

&quotThe simplicity of the story and the warmth of the multimedia artwork by illustrator Janice Kun would provide a special reading experience to share between a child and a caring adult. Swimming with Seals would also be a useful springboard for discussing types of families with older children and a good lead-up to motivate personal story writing.&quot

— CM Magazine

"The beautiful and carefully chosen words, along with the gorgeous pictures, evoke a poignancy as deep as the sea."

— Kit Pearson, award-winning author of <i>A Day of Signs and Wonders</i>

"The words and multimedia pictures excel at honoring the special time mother and daughter share…A needed…addition to diverse family stories, best for children whose caregivers are ready for questions."

— Kirkus Reviews

"I really like this book because it's about a girl who loves to swim, just like me."

— Lily, age 9, Canadian Teacher

"Importantly, this book celebrates a loving intergenerational family and conveys that all families are different. It tenderly depicts Ally's yearning to know her birth mother, mirroring the experience of many adopted children…The dynamic mixed media illustrations that blend pencil, watercolours and photography, capture the rugged beauty of the West Coast…The scenes are a feast for the eyes. Swimming with Seals is a worthy addition to any library collection wishing to include books about family diversity."

— Resource Links

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