Submitter: So we’ve had this book in my library for a while now, and I just haven’t been able to decide whether it’s a weeder or not. Circulation is pretty high, including in recent years. I’m just stuck, like, part of me thinks of dead baby seals and thinks this probably shouldn’t be in my children’s section. But the other part sees that it’s really informative and quite well done. Thoughts?
Holly: I see what Submitter is saying. There is a segment of the population that will be horrified that the seal is killed and flensed (skinned. I googled it. That’s quite a word for a children’s book!) and eaten, and the steps are told and shown in detail. The dead seal floats next to the boat, they have trouble carrying it to shore because it is slippery and wet, and the Mom is shown slicing into its belly with a knife.
Others will recognize this as a cultural study of how things are done in the books’ setting of Greenland (and it does seem fairly accurate). They may even be glad to see a children’s book that illustrates responsible hunting. It’s not a sport in the book; it is a food source for Tobias’ family and the author doesn’t romanticize either the cute seal or the victory of the hunt. My thought is that this is meant for older children and it would be better cataloged as non-fiction than as a picture book, even though it is a fictional story.