The Seal's Fate (Colour Conker) by Eoin Colfer and Victor Ambrus
|The Seal's Fate (Colour Conker) by Eoin Colfer and Victor Ambrus|
|Category: Dyslexia Friendly|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A story which examines the choice which one boy must make between his own conscience and his father's expectations. A story well told with brilliant illustrations.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 96||Date: October 2015|
|Publisher: Barrington Stoke|
|External links: Author's website|
Bobby Parrish was reluctant to admit that the seal was cute, even to himself. That sort of thing was for girls and he was here to club the seal. Seals were affecting his father's livelihood as a fisherman and there was a bounty of a £1 for a seal's flipper: in those days that was good money and even one of the girls had collected the cash. Still, somehow he couldn't quite bring himself to attack the defenceless cub, all big, black, round eyes and obviously unworried by his presence. What would the other lads say though? More to the point, what would his father say?
You'll have gathered by now that this isn't your usual fluffy children's book which has a happy ending for all concerned. There's a happy ending to The Seal's fate but it's not without death on the way, even by implication. It's based on an incident in Eoin Colfer's father's youth, in Wexford, Ireland at a time and in a place where sentimentality (as it would have been seen) about seals would not have been looked on kindly. Colfer examines the subject with sensitivity and achieves a delicate balance between condoning or condemning what happened to the seals. More importantly he makes it clear that it is OK to be different, to not kill when all around you think that it's the right thing to do.
There are a couple of bonuses with this book. Firstly, we have a top writer combined with a top artist who supplies some wonderful illustrations which really bring the text to life. Many readers will know Victor Ambrus from Channel 4's Time Team archaeology series, where he brought sites to the life they might once have enjoyed. He brings Wexford to life too: he has a particular talent for coastal areas, but I particularly liked his illustrations of Bobby - a lad trying to look like the hard man he so obviously wasn't.
The second bonus is that it's dyslexia friendly. So, what makes the book dyslexia friendly? Well, firstly Barrington Stoke have designed a special font where each character is distinct and pulls the reader on to read the next word. It's printed on an off-white paper, which reduces the glare which can distract some readers and the paper is substantial enough to ensure that there's no bleed through from the reverse of the page. The spacing between words and lines has been carefully judged to give the best reading experience and the text has not been justified as this can mean that readers get lost on the page. The book has clearly defined chapters to give natural rest breaks and it's not just the reader who benefits from that - many parents and carers feel the same way. It's not just people with dyslexia who benefit from these ingenious changes - most young readers will find the books easier to read and more enjoyable. I'm just about into my dotage and recently I've been suffering from eye problems - and Barrington Stoke books are the ones which I can read most easily.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.
I'm perhaps being prejudiced when I say that the book will probably appeal more to boys than to girls. Girls in the eight to twelve age group who enjoy a book with illustrations will enjoy Clare and Her Captain (Colour Conker) by Michael Morpurgo and Catherine Rayner. There are not so many illustrations in Desirable by Frank Cottrell Boyce but this would also appeal to boys in the eight to twelve age range.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Seal's Fate (Colour Conker) by Eoin Colfer and Victor Ambrus at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Seal's Fate (Colour Conker) by Eoin Colfer and Victor Ambrus at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.