Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

See What a Seal Can Do

See What a Seal Can Do

Chris Butterworth
Illustrator:  Kate Nelms 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Candlewick Press, 2013   ISBN: 978-0763665746

Gray seals are true seals, which means that they don’t have visible ears and they have short front flippers. Unlike sea lions, gray seals cannot lift themselves up using their front flippers and they are rather ungainly when they are on land. To move about they flump, which is “a flop and a jump both together.” When we see gray seals, more often than not they are lying on a sandy beach or on some rocks snoozing, and people might make the mistake of thinking that these animals are a lazy bunch.

   This is not the case at all. Gray seals spend most of their time at sea and when they are in the water they zip along at extraordinary speeds. Their torpedo-shaped bodies allow them to move through the water with ease, and their rear flippers are strong and powerful.

   They can dive to great depths, where the water is very cold, because their two furry coats are thick and waterproof and a thick layer of fat under their skin serves as an insulator. They have excellent hearing, which helps them to find their prey and to avoid predators such as sharks and killer whales that are partial to snacking on seals.

   When they are hunting, gray seals can twist “like a dancer” to snap up a fish or an eel, and they can stay underwater for long periods of time.

   This beautiful picture book shows to great effect how extraordinary and lovely gray seals are. In addition to the main text, there a little notes on every spread that provide readers with additional facts about seals. The illustrations help us to see how lithe and beautiful these seals are, and the close up images of their seal’s faces will turn every reader into a seal devotee.