Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Shared Lives: Catastrophe by the Sea by Brenda Peterson

Catastrophe wandered too far from home.

His whole world now is the beach at low tide.

He's damp and hungry and misses having someone to play with him.

An octopus jets ink at him and slithers under a rocky ledge. He pats at an anemone and provokes a squirt of salty seawater. He is stung when he paws the anemone's tentacles.
"I thought you were dead!" Catastrophe says.

"I'm as alive as you!" the anemone spouts.

But the sea anemone is as curious as Catastrophe about this strange creature on the beach. She tells Catastrophe her name is Naimonee, and the cat sees that the natives of this strange world are friendly. She introduces him to the sea slugs, the sand dollars, the dancing crabs, and the ancient barnacle, Buddy, stuck to his rock with ancient glue.
"Happy homebodies are we," they sing.

Catastrophe's friendly seaside tete a tete is abruptly interrupted by the first wave of the incoming tide and he is tumbled to and fro before he comes to rest far up the beach from his friendly tidal pool friends. He's wet and chilly and still hungry. But that's not all.
Now that the tide is in, he's much lonelier.

But as Catastrophe searches for his new friends, he hears the sound of running feet. He tries to flee, but finds himself a captive in a child's hands.
"You're the one on the LOST CAT posters!" a girl says.

There's no place like home for all of us creatures, and with the farewells of his tidal buddies in his ears, Catastrophe is on his way home, a happy cat, but changed by his experience of life in a different world.

In Brenda Peterson's Catastrophe by the Sea (West Margin Press, 2019), young readers are suddenly awash in the concept of biodiversity, the multitude of seemingly alien creatures with which we share the miracle of life.

There is power in a story that lets readers walk on different feet or swim in different waters. This motif is portrayed in the carefully crafted book design, in swirling lines of type, in the lovely paint and paper collage illustrations of Caldecott Award-winning artist Ed Young, and the sibilant sounds of author Peterson's text. The theme of fellow-feeling between living creatures is driven home to readers just as its cat character returns to his very different, but very happy home. Author Peterson appends more information for young beachcombers with notes by the Seattle Aquarium. Says School Library Journal, "Young's distinctive collage artwork is phenomenal and adds texture and detail. A harmonious picture book that celebrates biodiversity and builds empathy."

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home