Released in April 2021, Setsuko and the Song of the Sea by Fiona Barker (Author) and Howard Gray (Illustrator) tells the story of Setsuko who loves the sea. She swims its shallows and dives its depths, but she worries that her friends have chosen to abandon her way of life. Then she meets a whale who also fears he is the last of his kind. In return for giving him hope, he gifts her a song. They play together from the first crisp light of morning until the setting of the evening sun, and everyone who hears Setsuko’s song is filled with the wonder of the sea. They remembered the beauty and mystery of the ocean.
Today is my stop on the blog tour for this book. Thank you to Love Books Tours and Tiny Tree Books for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Setsuko and the Song of the Sea is a beautifully illustrated story with a very important message.
The illustration is absolutely stunning. With many images of Setsuko swimming underwater, the pages are filled with colour. My four-year-old loved looking at all of the different fish in the sea, trying to name them all.
The synopsis of the book is that Setsuko recognises the importance of caring for our oceans and keeping our human waste out of it. The illustration tells this story brilliantly, seeing the shocking image of all the plastic floating in the sea, but transitioning to clearer waters as Setsuko encourages her friends to tidy it up.
However, I do think the narrative lacks a little in this respect. There is no actual mention of the plastic in the sea or the global problem. Instead, the message itself is very vague in that Setsuko merely has something important to do. For older audiences, this isn’t too much of a problem as they may have some knowledge of the issue already, but there isn’t enough dialogue for younger audiences to question.
I would have liked an additional sentence or two that faces the problem a little more head-on, but I do love the book’s focus on such an important issue that we need to be discussing with our young ones.
It’s also worth mentioning that 10% of the net profits from each book will be donated to the Marine Conservation Society, the UK charity working for seas full of life (Find out more here), so do go and buy a copy if you have a young one who you think would love this story.
Setsuko and the Song of the Sea by Fiona Barker and Howard Gray
Release Date: 22nd April 2021
Print Length: 32 pages
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Publisher: Tiny Tree
Setsuko loves the sea. She swims its shallows. She dives its depths. But she worries that her friends have chosen to abandon her way of life. Then she meets a whale who also fears he is the last of his kind. In return for giving him hope, he gifts her a song which she uses to remind people of the beauty of the ocean. Setsuko took the song and made it her own. They played together from the first crisp light of morning until the setting of the evening sun. Everyone who heard Setsuko’s song was filled with the wonder of the sea. They remembered the beauty and mystery of the ocean.
A story of an unlikely friendship, Setsuko and her friend the whale have one thing in common ― their love of the sea. Much like the revered ama-san, ― women who have been diving off the coast of the Shima peninsula in Japan for over 2,000 years ― Setsuko is a strong girl who is on the path to becoming one of these real-life mermaids. 10% of the net profits from each book will be donated to the Marine Conservation Society, the UK charity working for seas full of life. Visit www.mcs.org.uk to find out more.