Cover image for The sea man
The sea man
Yolen, Jane.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Philomel Books, [1997]

Physical Description:
41 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
When sailors aboard a Dutch ship in 1663 capture a creature, half man and half fish, the superstitious crewmen want to kill it, except for a young cabin boy who believes that the creature deserves to live.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.6 1.0 31575.
Added Author:
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FICTION Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area

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What creature is this'half man, half fish? So wonder the crew of a small Dutch ship when they pull the creature up from the sea. Surely, they say, we should kill it before it brings bad luck. But the ship's lieutenant is not a superstitious man. Unlike his crew, he feels honor bound to heal the creature and return him to sea. When he spies a sea wife and sea child waiting by the boat, the lieutenant knows the time has come. What he doesn't know is that his compassion has earned him a guardian and a friend whose knowledge of the ocean will forever touch his life.With The Sea Man, Jane Yolen spins a rich fantasy which reminds us that learning to accept others, despite their differences, can open us to vast new worlds of truth and understanding.Jane Yolen lives in Hatfield, MA.Christopher Denise lives in Providence, RI.

Author Notes

Jane Yolen was born February 11, 1939 in New York City. She received a bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1960 and a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1976. After college, she became an editor in New York City and wrote during her lunch break. She sold her first children's book, Pirates in Petticoats, at the age of 22. Since then, she has written over 300 books for children, young adults, and adults.

Her other works include the Emperor and the Kite, Owl Moon, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and The Devil's Arithmetic. She has won numerous awards including the Kerlan Award, the Regina Medal, the Keene State Children's Literature Award, the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-5. A 1663 sailing ship is the setting for this short chapter book. Rescuing what appears to be a man trapped in a net, the sailors discover that from the waist down, the creature has the tail of a fish. The lieutenant in charge of the ship grapples with the conflicting views of legend, science, and religion as well as with the problem of protecting the merman from the knives of his superstitious crew and returning him to the ocean. His kindness to the sea man earns him an unusual reward. Nine softly shaded pencil drawings illustrate the story and reflect its understated style. Though the cabin boy is a sympathetic child-character, the point of view is that of the lieutenant, whose philosophical concerns may not hold young readers. Still, those looking for something different will find this an unusual story with attractive pencil illustrations. --Carolyn Phelan

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-5-In April, 1663, Lieutenant Maarten Huiskemp befriends a young cabin boy, Pieter, and discusses with him the "fact" that mermaids are mythical. When a half-man, half-fish creature is caught in the ship's nets and brought onboard, the lieutenant is torn between belief in the "humanity" of the creature and fear of its unnaturalness. Through his conversations with Pieter and his private musings, readers see the man move slowly toward accepting that the creature has feelings, can think, and can even communicate despite being mute. When he and Pieter see the merman's wife and daughter swimming near the ship, he realizes that they cannot let him die. Over the protests of the superstitious crew, they release him. This is a gentle, thought-provoking story that is based on a historical sighting. There is little action since Lieutenant Huiskemp's struggle is an internal one. He is presented as a conscientious leader who is very much a part of his time but who has an inquiring and open mind. Pieter is presented as a kind of catalyst to the lieutenant's thinking. He questions established beliefs and is genuinely concerned for and accepting of the sea man. The last chapter, in which the merman teaches the Lieutenant a form of sign language after his release, does not ring as true as the rest of the narrative, but young readers may find it satisfying. Full-page dark and shadowy illustrations that reflect the magical nature of the story are scattered throughout.-Wendy D. Caldiero, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.