February 5, 2015
Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox, illustrated by Brian Floca
Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas
by Lynne Cox
illustrated by Brian Floca
Schwartz and Wade
Once an elephant seal decided to make Christchurch, New Zealand her home. Most elephant seals live in the salty water of the ocean along the rocky coast. Not Elizabeth, that’s what the people called her. Elizabeth swam up the Avon River and settled in the heart of the city.
The people of Christchurch, especially the children, would slow as they passed the river and try to catch a glimpse of their city’s latest resident. The problem came one slightly, chilly morning.
Maybe she didn’t like the cool, damp grass. No one knows, but for some reason Elizabeth made her way up the embankment and stretched out across the two lane street. As long as a surf board and weighing 1200 pounds, that a lot of seal in the middle of the road. People worried she might get hit by a car so they took her out to sea.
It took some time before Elizabeth found her way back, but the people were still sure they knew better. This time they took her hundreds of miles away. For almost three months the children kept watch until Elizabeth found her way home.
This is a sweet story that is almost too good to be true, but true it is. The people of Christchurch really did share their city with an elephant seal and they named her Elizabeth. The author heard the story when she was visiting the city herself and decided that this was a story young readers would love.
Brian Floca has used pen and ink to give detail to the dreamy quality of his water color paintings that, in turn, lend this dream-like sense to the story as a whole.
Share this story with young nature lovers who are interested in stories of urban wildlife and sharing their space with the wild creatures of our world.