Seaside is a chapter book for young readers that’s guaranteed to get your kids into reading. Recently released, this nautical adventure takes place in a small fishing port (not unlike Portsmouth!) and features a ship-tackling octopus, a pirate-like antagonist, stunning illustrations, and a friendship between two characters from opposing worlds. Hardcover | Wylde Press | October, 2015 | 184 pp
Bobby O’Malley wants to be a fisherman more than anything in the world. He would even take on the challenge of swimming all the way to Dead Bone Island by himself, a rite of passage egged on by a school bully but a feat guaranteed to bring him into the circle of Blackbeard’s Boys. Determined to prove himself, he attempted the journey, but exhaustion got the better of him and he sank beneath the waves. Something saved him, and he awoke on the shore of Dead Bone Island.
Walter is a young octopus who is curious about the two-leggers. But after his mother chastises him for getting too close, she is caught in a fisherman’s net and dragged away.
Even though Bobby made the swim to Dead Bone Island (something that hadn’t been done for years), the leader of Blackbeard’s Boys still won’t let him into the gang unless he completes two more challenges, and the next involves sneaking onto Bonicelli’s ship, the mightiest fisherman in Seaside. Meanwhile, Walter is desperately trying to find his mother, and he thinks he found the ship that took her. Bobby and Walter’s paths collide and the whole town of Seaside is turned upside down.
My eight-year-old son devoured this book. He read it faithfully every night until he was finished, and then Mommy picked it up. Sometimes it’s difficult for him to get invested in a chapter book and stay focused but not so with Seaside. It held his attention remarkably well and we were able to have a good discussion about it afterward.
Seaside is more than just a tale; it’s a well-crafted parable for seeing beyond differences and blind fear. Walter the Octopus and Bobby O’Malley come from two completely different worlds that are at odds. But they have similarities. Both are on a quest, and both face a little bit of opposition from their parents. The octopuses and humans both fear each other and it is the two children who come together on common ground. It must also be said that the illustrations by Hannah K. Shuping are breathtakingly beautiful.
There’s also some great seafaring dialogue and fun nautical terms for the children to learn. It’s destined to get your mini-Ahab wanting more seagoing adventures.
“She’s free and ready Cap’n,” announced Frimp.
“Free and ready!” mimicked Mario.
“Full and by!” shouted Bonicelli.
“Full and by!” shouted Bobby, trying to fit in.
“On what heading?” Frimp asked.
“True, and outward bound!” the captain commanded as the ship headed into the wind and began to sail out of the harbor.
“Aye, Aye Cap’n, is the correct reply,” Frimp instructed the young boys.
I happily recommend Seaside by Wylde Scott to all moms and dads, children, schools, and libraries.