New Children’s Books Explore Marine Life

A trilogy of natural science books for young readers is being published by Cape Breton University Press. Dealing with marine life in the Atlantic region (seals, salmon and lobster), official launches of the three books will take place at elementary schools in Sydney Mines and Port Hawkesbury, May 4-5.

Schnider: A Harp Seal Story, Selina: An Atlantic Salmon and Selby the Lobster are all written by biologist Don Downer and illustrated by Gisele LeBlanc-Turner.Each book follows its title subject through their respective life cycles.

Through Schnider’s eyes young readers learn about a harp seal’s birth, weaning and maturing, the melting of the field of drift ice where he was born, his explorations, adventures and close calls in the search for food along the Newfoundland coast and, eventually, to the feeding grounds of Lancaster Sound and back again.

Selby’s story follows the lobster’s life in Ragged Harbour, foraging for food and avoiding predators, including Jake the lobster fisher, who really wants to catch Selby. A fierce storm destroys a lot of Jake’s fishing gear and brings about a change in the way he regards the sea and its many creatures – including Selby.

Readers follow Selina during her first years in the tributary and river system in which she was born. She explores every bit of the place until it is imprinted in her brain, so she can return to the same river tributary to lay her eggs when it is her time. During her life, Selina has narrow escapes from all manner of threat: becoming food for larger fish, birds, eels and even humans.

First published in 1999, Selina has been re-edited and redesigned to go with the other two books in the trilogy.
Newfoundland biologist Don Downer says his many years in the field and in the classroom sharing his knowledge about marine life compelled him to write the books so that young readers can gain full appreciation for these important species common to the North Atlantic.

The books are illustrated by Gisele LeBlanc-Turner, an artist and photographer living in Trenton, Ontario, where she is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Schnider, Selby and Selina will be introduced to the public during special launches at Jubilee Elementary School in Sydney Mines, at 11 a.m., May 4, and at Tamarac Elementary School in Port Hawkesbury, at 11 a.m., May 5.