The Sea Chest

by Toni Buzzeo
illustrated by Mary GrandPré
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2002.
ISBN 978-0803727038
About the book:
As they watch for the arrival of a long-awaited stranger, Maita tells her great-grandniece the story of her remarkable childhood.  Living sheltered on a lighthouse island with only her parents for company, Maita would bake pumpkin pies, tend to the hens, spin stories, and long for a time when she might not be the only child the ragged island knew.  And then one icy night, howling winds blew wave after wave against the shore, and from that fearsome storm came a sea chest--a gift that would change Maita's life forever.
From a beguiling legend, Toni Buzzeo has fashioned this exquisitely lyrical, intimate tale, illustrated in stirring, vibrant paintings by Mary GrandPré.  Together they have created a book of classic beauty and resonance.

STARRED REVIEW:  “GrandPré's oil paintings create the dramatic effects of the story. From the muted sunrise on the endpapers to the sunset on the back cover, this lovely book has an intimacy that is enhanced by reading it aloud. The combination of exquisite language and enchanting illustrations makes this a unique and outstanding book.” —Barbara Buckley, School Library Journal

“A contemporary family adoption story and a 19th-century legend are braided together into a tale of extraordinary tenderness and remembered longing...  Altogether a lovely effort.“ —Kirkus

“Poignant, poetic and movingly illustrated, this story resonates with sisterly love.“ —Publishers Weekly

✿ Teachers and Librarians:
Classroom resources are available 
for this title!
I was a solitary child, 
alone on Halleys Head Light 
for all my first ten years, 
with just my mama 
to teach me reading 
and just my papa 
to spin stories of the boundless world 
beyond the rocks of Sanctuary Island. 
I longed for a time I might not be 
the only child 
the craggy island knew.
Spring mornings found me 
scrambling beneath the port, 
robbing the brooding hens 
of their tawny eggs. 
I circled double-yolk days in yellow 
on the feed calendar above the davenport 
with their promise of news, fellowship, 
and sugar to sweeten summer tea. 
When pumpkins burned orange 
in the only garden plot 
the rocky island held, 
first days of home-school 
were boxed in red.
But when frost grew thick in winter, 
I huddled all day by the fire. 
Cloaked in Mama's hand-stitched quilts, 
I left the calendar for warmer days 
and braided solitary stories...

Awards & Honors:
2004-2005 Children’s Crown Gallery Award
2002 Maine Lupine Honor Award
2005-2006 Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee
2002 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award
Featured on The CBS Early Show 
2002 Gift Books for Children by Valerie Lewis
Junior Library Guild Selection
2002 Bank Street College Best Children’s Books 
        of the Year Selection
Society of Illustrator’s Original Art 2002 Selection
Raising Readers Selection
Kansas-NEA Reading Circle Catalog Title
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