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Author: Toni Buzzeo

Illustrator: Margaret Spengler & Mary GrandPre

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Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Putnam, Inc),

Material: hard cover

Summary: This is the retelling of a fictional story from the 1800s. Maita, the daughter of a lighthouse keeper, tells her great-grandniece about how her sister Seaborne arrived wrapped in a sea chest. Now, that same sea chest is part of the niece's family. This is a fictional tale, based on an old Maine legend.

Type of Reading: family reading, bedtime story, read aloud

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 10 and Up

Interest Level: 4 to 10

Reading Level: 5.2

Age of Child: First read with child 19 months old, still reading at almost 9 years old.

Young Reader Reaction: As a toddler, our daughter liked the pictures. Now, almost nine, our daughter uses the book when she wants a comforting, soothing read. She also picks it when adoption is on her mind and she's trying to sort out what makes a family.

Adult Reader Reaction: A beautiful story that explains adoption without hitting the child over the head with the concept like many other books do. The narrative style allows the reader to embrace the idea, and not walk away saying “but that’s not how I was adopted.” Instead, you enjoy its uniqueness, sense the joy of Seaborne’s arrival, and share in the excitement of the baby soon to arrive.

Pros: This is destined to become a favorite story. It has the elements that make kids come back: happy endings, mystery & discovery, and love. The illustrations—done in oil—truly enhance the beauty of the book.

Cons: It’s hard to find any. The book’s quality is such that you don’t want little hands to play with it. While you’ll want to keep it on a shelf to protect it, keep it in reach, because you’ll probably have to read it frequently!

Borrow or Buy: BUY IT. This is one that’s destined to be part of a child’s permanent collection, even for those who aren’t adopted.


Educational Themes: It’s a great story for explaining that there is no one way to become a family. It also shows that to be adopted is to participate in a miracle of love.

Notes: This is from our personal library.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fables and folklore, adoption, family, picture book

Date(s) Reviewed: June 2003, June 2006, September 2010

Other Reviews:


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