Winning the Girl of the Sea


32 pages
ISBN 1-55037-312-9
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Alice Priestley
Reviewed by Kelly L. Green

Kelly L. Green is editor of the Canadian Book Review Annual’s
Children’s Literature edition.


A girl washes up on a beach. There she meets two “walkers” named
Mumblety and Peg, and hears about their family—three boys who also
appeared from nowhere (ruddy Mick, whom they found while digging in the
ash garden, brown Kim, who came shooting out of a volcano one afternoon,
and pale Lee, who blew in on a northeast gale). The girl spends a day
and a night looking for things, trying to remember something, and
dreaming, before deciding that she will join the family. But she must
also build a boat so that she can sail away every other day. That’s
fine with Peg, Mumblety, and the boys. The end.

This ill-conceived picture book is a study in how to write a
children’s book with virtually no appeal for children. Upon first
reading, the book is simply incoherent; by the third, it appears that
Silsbe herself awakened from a surreal dream and immediately wrote it
down. While dreams can be fascinating to the dreamer, and, on occasion,
interesting to others, they seldom make good books—and this one is no
exception. The characters are unreal and lacklustre (as are most of the
illustrations), and the long dream sequence in the middle of the book
only serves to confuse this storyless storybook even further. Not


Silsbe, Brenda., “Winning the Girl of the Sea,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,