Review: The Old Man of the Sea Reading for Pleasure Recommendations

Book Title: The Old Man of the Sea (available here)

Author: Stella Elia

Illustrator: Weberson Santiago

Publisher: Lantana

Publication Date: August 2018

Most Suitable For: KS2

Reviewed by: Rachael Collins, Primary Teacher

Review Panel Comment:

Old Man Of the Sea is a beautiful picture book telling the story of a young boy and his grandfather. Every Sunday, the boy listens to his grandfather’s tales from around the world. It is written from the perspective of the boy, as if he is journeying right along with his grandfather.

Stella Elia starts the story from Grandpa’s bedroom – the place where the boy always listens to the adventures of Grandpa’s days of being a sailor. The first stop for Grandpa’s storytelling is Europe. Much of the detail here comes from Weberson Santiago’s stunning, colourful illustrations. Europe is drawn as a map, with a few key landmarks (such as the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa) overlaid onto the map. The illustrations hint at the many details of the adventures Grandpa shared with his grandson.

From Europe, the next double page spread shows the journey onto the next location. The illustration here helps to show the contrast between the excitement of exploring the continent to the calm of the journey on the ocean. The story continues with Grandpa visiting continents around the world, until he came to be in the place he loved the most which he would call home.

Old Man Of The Sea highlights the power of stories and the importance of sharing them whilst you have the chance. It shows the opportunities stories give to transport the listener and the teller to different worlds. Stella Elia sensitively deals with the subject of growing older and Weberson Santiago’s illustrations show the different possibilities in Grandpa’s untold tales.

Additional BooksForTopics Comment (published as part of the Bookstagram Tour): Lantana Publishing brings us a stunning picture book offering from the Brazilian duo Stella Elia and Weberson Santiago.

A tender storytelling moment unfolds between a grandson and his grandpa, who says that ‘every line on my skin tells the story of my life.’ Grandpa’s seafaring tales speak of amazing voyages around the globe, joyfully traversing different continents and collecting new stories as he goes. The stories, the seas and the characters encountered along the way sit somewhere between the boundary of real and magical and it never really matters to the reader either way - because stories are stories and the joy here is in the retelling.

Not in the business of colonising, Grandpa’s love of each place he visits is poured out in his lyrical ode to each continent. The only treasures he collects on his travels are the stories with which he fills his luggage as he packs up and moves on from each place.

The artwork is wonderful - capturing the spirit of the adventures and the wide-eyed wonder of the young boy as he sits and listens to Grandpa.

This is a truly lovely picture book that enchants as much as it entertains - an ode to adventures real and imaginary and a gentle plea to encourage loved ones to bring to the surface life stories that long to be retold.


You can order Old Man of the Sea online or from your local bookshop or library.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Rachael for reviewing it.


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