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Children's Fiction Adaptations

Seal Song Read-Along

by (author) Andrea Spalding

illustrated by Pascal Milelli

read by Priscilla Holbrook

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Sep 2016
Adaptations, Marine Life, Friendship
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2016
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

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


"No good comes from seal songs," says Finn's father. But Finn believes differently.

Finn loves to swim with the seals in a secret cove. He arrives at the cove one day and rescues a young seal tangled in netting. Finn wishes the seal could live on land. That night the seals sing. When Sheila, a mysterious girl no one has ever seen before, appears on the cannery docks, the fisher folk are uneasy. They believe the newcomer is a magical selkie, a shape changer.

About the authors

Andrea Spalding is a prolific writer for children.
Born in the industrial city of Manchester England, she trained as a teacher. Then, with husband David, Andrea immigrated to Canada in 1967. After living in Alberta for 24 years, Andrea and David relocated to British Columbia and live on Pender Island, one of Canada's Southern Gulf Islands.
Canadian life proved to be rich and varied. Curiosity about her chosen country compelled Andrea to listen to other Canadian immigrants who shared tales that later became her folktale book, A World of Stories.
A love of the outdoors prompted her and David to take their family and travel quintessential Canada. They've skated on frozen lakes, worked on dinosaur digs, and panned for Yukon gold. Andrea has whale-watched on both coasts, enjoyed vineyards and theatre festivals on the Niagara Peninsula, and tapped her feet in Toronto jazz clubs. A highlight West Coast experience was assisting in the carving an Aboriginal Honour Pole with Tsimshian master carver Victor Reece. These experiences provided background for her stories.
Andrea's first children's book, The Most Beautiful Kite In The World, was selected as a Canadian Children's Book Center's "Our Choice." She has garnered awards and nominations ever since. Her fantasy novels - The Summer of Magic Quartet - are avidly read by both children and adults. Her picturebook, Secret of the Dance, is her 30th. Written with Aboriginal Elder Alfred Scow, it has gained accolades from both the aboriginal and white communities.
Andrea gives school presentations across the country, and also teaches writing workshops, and in-service presentations to teachers, librarians, and any one interested in her passion for Children's Literature.

Visit Andrea's website at

Andrea Spalding's profile page

Pascal Milelli graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design. His first picturebook was the award-winning Rainbow Bay (Raincoast), followed by The Art Room (Groundwood), which was awarded the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award for Illustration. His work has also been recognized by The Society of Illustrators and has appeared in Communication Arts and Applied Arts magazines. Pascal lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Pascal Milelli's profile page

Priscilla Holbrook's profile page


  • Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Award nominee
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books starred selection
  • Short-listed, TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award nominee
  • Commended, OLA Best Bets
  • Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"

Excerpt: Seal Song Read-Along (by (author) Andrea Spalding; illustrated by Pascal Milelli; read by Priscilla Holbrook)

The storm threw down a curtain of rain.
    "FINN!" screamed Sheila as she lost sight of him.
    In heaving swells, Finn's boat floundered. The wind howled, freezing his hands. The rain became blinding sleet. "Which way?" he cried.
    On the beach, Sheila sang, "Eeeeiiiiii, eeeeiiiiii." A magic song. A seal song.
    The piercing notes reached Finn. He rowed toward her voice, but the wind shifted.

Editorial Reviews

"Milelli's illustrations are extraordinary. His unique artistic style, with his colour blocks and vivid palette, harkens back to the works of Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso. Milelli's approach allows the reader to bear witness to the natural world with a newfound wonder...Seal Song weaves fishing customs and traditional folklore effortlessly into one tale. Spalding adds taking a visceral approach to her storytelling. Thus, the reader gains a more intimate perspective into the characters and their experiences. Seal Song beautifully showcases that a friend can take any shape."

CM Magazine

"A strong sense of place, sinewy prose, and an unusual blend of workaday life and fairy tale dreaminess distinguish Spalding's (Secret of the Dance) Pacific Northwest fantasy...The oil paintings by Milelli (The Art Room) are composed, mosaiclike, of planes of saturated color that mimic the play of light across the water and the faces of the fishermen. The sober reality of the tweed caps of the men on the docks and the cannery's wooden buildings anchor the story’s magical elements in a particularly piquant way."

Publishers Weekly

"Dramatic oil paintings, particularly effective in their portrayal of the ocean and the selkie, illustrate the bittersweet, evocative story."

The Horn Book Guide

"The formal text retains the grave and romantic tone of folklore and incorporates free-verse poetry in lyrical songs that echo folkloric rhyme...The design and typography of the poems enhance the emotional cadence and parallel the movement in the underwater scenes."

Canadian Literature

"Spalding has intertwined traditional Celtic folklore with the west coast fishing way of life to create an enchanting story about a loyal and, ultimately, life-altering friendship. She writes beautifully, with such powerful imagery and a strong sense of place that the text could easily stand on its own...Milelli's vibrant oil paintings transport readers to the natural surroundings of a fishing community. He achieves a dramatic effect by employing blocks of colour, with emphasis on blues and greens, so supporting Spalding by creating the perfect atmosphere for her beautifully crafted text. An inspired pairing! Seal Song will captivate and entrance young imaginations."

Canadian Children's Book News

"This story will help children understand how kindness and sacrifice can strengthen relationships."

Resource Links

"A delicate balance of prose and poetry that really grabs the reader...Milelli's illustrations reflect the sea and refracted light of the sun on every page. Coupled with Spalding's masterful storytelling, this art proves that picture books can be as deep and moving as any other book."

Perogies & Gyoza blog

"The magical elements of this friendship story seem believable in context, and the bittersweet ending is appropriate...The text is set on or opposite Milelli's dark, expressive oil paintings, which focus mainly on the characters, giving only a rough idea of their surroundings. Read aloud or alone, the storytelling and illustrations work well together, creating a memorable, satisfying whole."

Kirkus Reviews

"The storm scenes are skilfully rendered, and Milelli's pictures are particularly vivid."

Quill & Quire

"Richly illustrated with beautiful, evocative oil paintings, Seal Song is a thought provoking look at what it means to be a friend."

"[This] magical story is one of friendship and devotion...The oil illustrations reel you in, as does the free-verse interspersed throughout."

Southwest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries

"The prose weaves gentle magic, but the illustrations command attention here. Softly hued, earthy, watery, the reader is bound to get lost in each one."

Eastern New Jersey Regional Library Cooperative

"Evocative illustrations in oil by award-winning Vancouver artist Pascal Milelli provide a moody, watery backdrop throughout the book."

BC Bookworld

Other titles by Andrea Spalding

Other titles by Pascal Milelli

Other titles by Priscilla Holbrook