I discovered Mabecron Books Publishing a few months ago now, when I was looking around to see whether Michelle Cartlidge (the author of one of my very favourite loft treasures) had published anything more recently. She had, and you can read my post about it here. She is now published by Mabecron, who specialise in books from Devon and Cornwall, and while I was browsing their website I discovered that they also published books illustrated by one of my very favourite drawing talents – Rebecca Cobb.
After responding with barely contained hysteria to a tweet about the fact that ‘The Lonely Sea Dragon’ had been published, I was incredibly lucky to receive a copy of this book from the publisher, signed by Rebecca Cobb herself, no less! Obviously when you are that excited about a book you get very worried about it not living up to your expectations, but my fears were completely unfounded in this case. As the title of this post suggests, it is the very epitome of happy summer holidays spent in Cornwall and of the exciting stories that you can conjure up when you have time to yourself to be inspired.
In this instance, Amy and Callum find a Sea Dragon one day as they are playing on the beach. Just look at the beautiful colours on his scales and the elegant seaweed-like tail, and that’s before we even cast our gaze downwards to his adorable snout.
The poor Sea Dragon is incredibly unhappy after straying away from his friends and family and the children try everything they can think of to cheer him up (including taking their dog down for a visit), but to no avail. I love how the page below feels as though you could just step into and amble down to a quaint Cornish holiday cottage on the harbour and I definitely dig the relaxed summer holiday outfits that Amy and Callum are sporting (it shouldn’t be the case, but it feels as though I should comment on how happy it makes me to see a girl character wearing blue, as well as the fact that she’s in shorts as opposed to a skirt. Hurrah!).
Eventually, the Sea Dragon does eventually respond positively to something Amy and Callum bring and it seems only right and good that this ‘thing’ is ice-cream, without which no summer holiday – nor trip to Cornwall – would be complete. He also seems to like balloons, so is rapidly turning into Potential Kindred Spirit material as far as the boys and I are concerned. The Sea Dragon starts warming to Amy and Callum and they love how much he seems to need them. What could be more awesome than having a Sea Dragon for a friend, after all?
Slowly but surely, it dawns on the children that although the Sea Dragon really needs their help, what he needs more than anything is to get back to his original habitat with his friends and family. C has been talking a lot about habitats recently, so this book gave us a chance to discuss real and imagined ones in more detail.
I just love how this spread tells so skilfully evokes not only the worries that keep you wide-eyed and awake as a child, but also the Sea Dragon’s loneliness.
Helen Dunmore has also managed to capture the language of young children with grace and ease, yet will also casually throw in words like ‘lugubriously’ to extend their vocabulary. She and Rebecca Cobb are the perfect match if this book is anything to go by.
After a tense finale:
the Sea Dragon is reunited with its gang and Amy and Callum are just left with a bottle of Sea Dragon tears as a memento of their magical summer holiday.
Frankly, I can’t think of a cooler souvenir. Ohhh wait, I CAN – if you’re going to Cornwall you should pop into the nearest independent bookseller (maybe even St Ives Bookseller, in the town where the book is set) and get yourself a copy of this book. Though M cannot believe it’s the case (having spent a childhood happily seeking out the odd 2p machine on seaside jaunts), I never used to go into the arcades or seek out any other form of entertainment when I was younger. I either read a book (surprise, surprise), wrote stories and Important Thoughts in my scrapbook, or played on the beach. Therefore, this book feels nostalgic for me even though it wasn’t around when I was younger – it encapsulates everything that is wonderful about holidaying as a child.
Disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. I was not asked to write this post, nor was I given any money for doing so, and the review represents my own honest opinion.