Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Sea-Thing Child

Russell Hoban
illustrated by Patrick Benson 1999

A remarkably beautiful story by the author famous for the Frances books.  A sea-thing creature has washed ashore and lives in fear of what he is and where he can go.  He befriends a fiddler crab and builds a little pile of rocks to hide in.  But little by little he is drawn to the immensity of the ocean and the sky and learns just what glorious thing he was made for.

The wind was howling, the sea was wild, and the night was black when the storm flung the sea-thing child up on the beach.  In the morning the sky was fresh and clean, the beach was littered with seaweed, and there he lay- a little black heap of scales and feathers, all alone.

He saw a fiddler crab waving his fiddle and shouting, "Oh, oh, oh!  If only I had a bow, what music I could play!  Walruses and great green turtles from the trackless deep would gather to the sound of my fiddling, yes."

At night the sea-thing child felt more and more restless.  He looked at the stars, and when he closed his eyes, he went on seeing the stars in his mind.  He could not sleep unless he was facing a particular star that burned and flickered over the sea, and when he slept he dreamed of wind rushing past him.  He dreamed of the ocean too, black and heaving in the night, sometimes under him, sometimes over him.  He would run along the beach in the dark, cheeping to himself, then he would come back to his circle.  And every night before he went to sleep he drew a second circle around the first one.

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