The Sea Chest
Author: Toni Buzzeo
Illustrator: Mary GrandPre
Publisher: Dial (2002)
Hardcover, 32 pages, $16.99
In this tender story inspired by a popular lighthouse legend, Toni Buzzeo gives the reader a timeless tale about the meaning of family and the unique bond shared by sisters.
As her great-great-niece sits close beside her, holding a worn photograph of a baby, Aunt Maita tells the young girl the story of her life at Sanctuary Island. When Aunt Maita was ten years old, she was a lonely only child living at a lighthouse in Maine. During a particularly violent winter storm, Maita and her parents stay up all night; her father tending the light while Maita and her mother watch and worry as a ship tries to make safe passage through the churning seas. Despite their best efforts, the ship is lost to the sea.
The next day, Maita and her father go down to the shoreline to search for sea glass. Instead of bits of colored glass, they find a bundle of mattresses that washed ashore from the ship that was lost in the night. Within the mattresses they find a wooden chest; within the chest they find a baby girl. Her parents last act was to bundle her in the sea chest and hope that their daughter would survive. Maita names the baby Seaborne, and her parents raise the girl as their own. Seaborne sleeps in the sea chest that protected her until she grows too large for it. As the years pass, Maita is delighted to have a sister to share with; she's no longer a lonely little girl wishing for a friend.
When Aunt Maita finishes her story, her young niece looks at the old sea chest, which is waiting to be used for a new occupant: "the tiny stranger my mama and papa have gone to fetch from so far across the wide Atlantic. To be my sister."
Beautifully illustrated by Mary GrandPre (best known for her work on the Harry Potter series), this lyrical story of adoption and sisterly love is not to be missed.
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