Boston Public Garden and Christchurch, New Zealand, seem worlds apart until you read this tale of an eight-foot-long elephant seal determined to make her home in the heart of a city park. Make way, ducklings, for Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas! Based on real events, this fictionalized account is seen through the eyes of a young boy named Michael who “looked for the elephant seal every day on his way to school, and again on his way home.” Lynne Cox’s gentle, straightforward text recounts how Elizabeth, asleep in the middle of the street, is nearly de-flippered by a passing car. Fearing damage to both beast and man, volunteers decide to tow her out to sea not once, not twice but three times, only to find her back in the exact same spot along the banks of the Avon River. For readers unfamiliar with these truly awesome aquanauts, a sprinkling of facts is gracefully woven into the story as well. Caldecott Medal winner Brian Floca’s carefully detailed illustrations, which vary from multiple sun-drenched vignettes scattered across a single page to double-page vistas shimmering with moonlight, expertly follow the arc of the narrative, punctuating the danger, celebrating the joy, reveling in the seemingly impossible. A brief note by the author contains additional information, suggests Web sites and, best of all, includes a black-and-white photograph of the real Elizabeth, happily ensconced and wholly asleep in the middle of her favorite street.

Kristi Elle Jemtegaard


By Lynne Cox

Illustrated by Brian Floca

"Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas "by Lynne Cox. (Schwartz & Wade)

Schwartz & Wade. $17.99. Ages 5-8