Mr. Cleghorn’s Seal
By Judith Kerr
Published by: HarperCollins Children’s Books (June 7, 2016)
Available in: hardcover, paperback, Kindle, NOOK
At the time of this review this was a standalone book.
Mr. Cleghorn’s Seal does not worry about being modern. From simple black and white illustrations to correspondence by snail mail to a sweet, simple story, this book is all old school pleasure.
The writer and artist, the great Judith Kerr, published it last year in England when she was 92 years old. While Mr. Cleghorn’s Seal is her first novel in more than 37 years, Kerr’s books have been translated into 25 languages and sold more than nine million copies. In 2012 she was awarded the OBE (the prestigious Order of the British Empire) for her services to children’s literature and Holocaust education, and just this year she was named BookTrust Lifetime Achievement winner, a British award that celebrates those who have made outstanding contributions to children’s literature.
So don’t be fooled by Mr. Cleghorn’s simplicity. It’s not just any author who can write a children’s book with retirement, senior-citizen romance, an orphaned seal who lives on a balcony, a classic mean janitor and a hilarious baby bottle scene in a tight little chapter book.
The book is short, but the tone of the language is a little mature. For example, Mr. Cleghorn reminisces about missing his work since he’s just sold his shop. So there might be a few aspects that make children climb slightly higher in the thinking pool than, say, a Magic Treehouse book. But often, the climb is worth it. And in this case, there’s just no question—Ms. Kerr’s excellent intuition and craft seal the deal.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….