Rafe Martin’s, “The Boy who lived with the Seals” evokes powerful themes and contains breathtaking illustrations. The story is about a young boy who disappears and is discovered some time later living harmoniously among the seals. In the depths of the night he is stolen and delivered to his original clan. It is clear however that he has been forever changed and does not fit into the world he once new. He shies away from other humans and spends time carving by the sea where the sounds of seals can be heard.
His family is initially sad and continues to search for him, but every spring they find a new canoe carved for them, and find peace.
Analyzing this book along the rubric we received, I felt it deserved the best score in each category. The story was well developed, the boy’s development was the main focus and the illustrations brought the setting to life. While the Author’s authority could be argued, Rafe Martin has published other myths retold in a way that has been welcomed by different communities, that being said, his authority on Native stories could be challenged.
I would love to use a story of this nature in my Social Studies class to start a discussion about anthropology and embedding within a community, citing real life examples of Stanley Livingston and so on. Also posing questions about family structures and in what ways it can be difficult to go against the norm and find your own place in the world. This reminds me that my students are not blank slates, they come with a world of knowledge, some may be able to relate closely to this story, either through adoption from another culture, or foster care. Developing a discussion in a open and supportive atmosphere would be my biggest goal.