Review Blog

Sep 02 2016

Mister Cleghorn's seal by Judith Kerr

cover image

HarperCollins, 2015. ISBN 9780008157302
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Seals, pets, Zoos. This charming tale based in part on a story the author's father told her as a child, asks readers to think about their place within the environment, how things humans do impact on animals around them and how one person can make a difference.
Mr Cheghorn has sold his shop and now lives alone, wondering what the day will bring. A letter from his cousin who lives at a seaside town invites him to join his family for a holiday. Mr Cleghorn can now accept and packs his bag to venture on the train to the town. Here he is greeted heartily by his younger cousins, and one boy, Tommy becomes a special friend. They row out each day to watch a baby seal left on a rock while its mother fishes, returning to feed her offspring in the evening. But one day she does not return, probably shot by fishermen down the coast, and Mr Cleghorn's cousin decides it must be killed rather than dying a slow hungry death. But Mr Cleghorn decides to take the animal home, and an adventure begins as he must find ways to keep it fed, along with how to keep it in his small flat. The decisions he makes in keeping this animal crowd in as he succeeds in eventually finding a home for the seal, but not before he angers the janitor at the flat, has fish land on some people beneath his balcony, find a loving relationship with the woman downstairs and takes over a zoo. This lovely story will have wide appeal, especially to animal loving children in middle primary school.
Lovely pencil illustrations accompany this story adding a nostalgic ambience.
Fran Knight

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