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Children's Nonfiction Native Canadian

If You Want to Visit a Sea Garden

by (author) Kay Weisman

illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2020
Native Canadian, Native American, Environmental Science & Ecosystems
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 5 to 8
  • Grade: k to 3
  • Reading age: 5 to 8


Discover the wonder of ancient sea gardens on the Northwest Coast

Sea gardens have been created by First Peoples on the Northwest coast for more than three thousand years. These gardens consist of stone reefs that are constructed at the lowest tide line, encouraging the growth of clams and other marine life on the gently sloped beach.

This lyrical story follows a young child and an older family member who set out to visit a sea garden early one morning, as the lowest tides often occur at dawn. After anchoring their boat, they explore the beach, discover the many sea creatures that live there, hear the sputtering of clams and look closely at the reef. They reflect on the people who built the wall long ago, as well as those who have maintained it over the years. After digging for clams, they tidy up the beach, then return home.

An author’s note provides further information about sea gardens (also known as clam gardens), which yield a reliable food source and have been traditional places of learning. They have been found along the Pacific coast, from Alaska to British Columbia to Washington State, and some of these gardens are being restored today.

The manuscript has been vetted and approved by the scientists of the Clam Garden Network and Kwaxsistalla Wathl’thla Clan Chief Adam Dick. Roy Henry Vickers, whose ancestry includes the Tsimshian, Haida and Heiltsuk First Nations, has created hauntingly beautiful images to accompany the text.

Key Text Features
author’s note

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

>With prompting and support, identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.

Name the author and illustrator of a text and define the role of each in presenting the ideas or information in a text.

About the authors

KAY WEISMAN is a librarian who has worked in elementary schools and public library youth services departments. She is a longstanding reviewer for Booklist and has contributed articles to various journals, including Book Links, NoveList and School Library Monthly. Her research for this picture book debut included traveling to several sea gardens to observe archeologists and marine ecologists at work. Kay lives in Vancouver.


Kay Weisman's profile page

Roy Henry Vickers is a renowned carver, painter and printmaker whose Eagle Aerie Gallery in Tofino, BC, has become a provincial landmark. Roy was appointed to the Order of British Columbia in 1998 and to the Order of Canada in 2006. He is the co-author of the immensely popular children's Northwest Coast Legends series, of which three books were shortlisted for the Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award: Raven Brings the Light in 2014, Cloudwalker in 2015 and Orca Chief in 2016. He is the author of several other books that showcase his art, including Storyteller (Harbour Publishing, 2014). He currently lives in Hazelton, BC.

Roy Henry Vickers' profile page


  • Commended, A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year

Editorial Reviews

The text and illustrations combine grace and knowledge, offering a stunning nonfiction picture book that celebrates First Nations cultural traditions.

School Library Journal

This beautiful book will enhance awareness of the tradition through its impressive visual presentation.

CM Review of Materials

Kay Weisman’s lyrical writing style ignites the senses … [v]isually stunning.

Canadian Children’s Book News

Melodic prose speaks directly to the reader, fully immersing you in the experience. … The trademark bold, colorful art of celebrated Indigenous artist Roy Henry Vickers evokes a sense of place and purpose.

Hakai Magazine

This engaging tale is a natural for lessons about ecology and units on Indigenous peoples, and the illustrations will pop for story-hour audiences.


[T]his book conveys the importance of environmental stewardship and inculcating a love for the land and sea in children.

Vancouver Writers Fest

A lyrical story for nature-loving readers, told with reverence for the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

Kirkus Reviews

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