The Selkie's Mate

illus. by Claire Jenkins. (Shadow & Light). 40p. Graffeg. Oct. 2017. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781910862490.
Gr 3–5—On an island lives a crofter who loves the sea and a selkie who is drawn to him by his lonely songs. The two sing together night after night, until the seal disappears. She comes to him the next day in her human form and gives him her selkie skin, requesting he promise to keep it safe and return it when she asks. The two live happily together for seven years, raising two children, until the day the selkie asks for her skin back and the crofter delays, hoping to ply her instead with gifts. Three times she asks, and three times he refuses, unable to understand why she wants her skin back. They continue to live together, but now without joy or love. As in many selkie stories, it is the children who discover the location of the skin, and their mother is able to return to the sea. Only then does the crofter finally understand his betrayal. This slim volume is part of series of short stories by Davies, an author and zoologist, exploring humanity's connection with nature. She presents the haunting story of betrayed trust and loss in accessible language that would also be suitable for a read-aloud in folklore units. The text is complemented by excellent pencil and watercolor illustrations that vary in size and include rich full-page spreads from debut illustrator Jenkins.
VERDICT A solid addition to folktale collections.

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