The Wee Seal by Janis Mackay


The Wee Seal by Janis Mackay

Jamie has been watching the wee white seal that lives on the beach. At night the wee seal cuddles up to its mother. In the morning she goes out to sea and leaves it alone like a strange white stone on the sand. One day tourists come and crowd the wee seal but Jamie knows just what to do to protect it until its mother comes back...Janis Mackay's lyrical prose tells the story of the tender relationship between a wild baby seal and the young boy who watches over it, while Gabby Grant's soft illustrations brilliantly evoke the landscape of the Orkney Islands.


'This is a story that you can imagine Janis reading. It has a sing song lilt, not quite poetry but not quite prose ... Janis is at her best with stories relating to the sea and this is a lovely innocent nature tale.'

'This book has a beautiful island setting which very much reminded me of the illustrations in the Katie Morag books, so they might appeal to the same children ... A nice way to learn about the lives of seals - and the right way to treat nature.'

's Children's Literature Blog 'An informative and gentle tale.'

'This is a lovely story about the tender relationship between a wild baby seal and the young boy who watches over it and the soft illustrations brilliantly conjure up the landscape of Scotland. The illustrations of the seals are stunning, especially the one at the start of mum and baby and when they swim away at the end. A lovely story to share and then to go seal spotting like we did.'

'This is a very gentle picture book story set in the Scottish islands and can be enjoyed by a wide range of children. Not only is it a story but it's also educational and will serve to teach children about nature and seals in particular.' - Armadillo 'This charming tale is accompanied by appropriate and delicate illustrations in muted colours which greatly add to the text. I very much enjoyed this book. --The School Librarian 'The book begins poetically: It came in the night / when the world was asleep, / that strange white stone on the beach. Jamie discovers that the stone is actually a baby seal, and for days, he greets the pup morning and evening, knowing that the wee seal's mum cares for her baby each night. But the pup attracts the wrong kind of attention. An amusing double-page spread shows an aerial view of tourists leaning in too closely over the bemused seal, after which Jamie rushes in with a sign that proclaims, the seal has a Mum. Leeve alon plees. Jamie. Jamie's diligence gives the seal time to shed its baby fur and grow, following its mother's song into the sea when it has reached proper maturity.' --Kirkus 'This is a beautiful story about a baby seal left on the shore by its mother. A boy in a nearby cottage watches the seal and realises that the mother comes to it each evening to bring food. He keeps an eye on the seal and rushes out to protect it from a bunch of well-meaning tourists. When the seal has grown enough, it swims out to sea with its mother. A touching story about nurture and care.'

About the Author

Janis Mackay

Janis Mackay was born and grew up in Edinburgh, but moved to London to study journalism. She has an MA in Creative Writing and has held writer-in-residence posts in both Caithness and Sutherland. She currently lives in Edinburgh, where she teaches creative writing and works as a writer and storyteller. She is the author of the Magnus Fin series.

A Q&A with the author about the writing of The Accidental Time Traveller....

Q. did you always want to be an author?


Q. How long did this book take to write?

A. Probably a year in all. I finished it while spending a month on an island in Finland in the spring of 2012.

Q. When did you first get the idea to write about time travel?

A. In 2011 I went to a theatre show about Marjory Fleming. She lived in Edinburgh 200 years before. At the age of 8 she kept a diary and wrote poems and observations of life, and of herself. She was a wonderful writer. She died before her ninth birthday, but the diary was kept and later published. This gave me a Scottish child’s insight into life 200 years ago. It was Marjory that inspired the theme.

Q. This book is very different to Magnus Fin. What is your favourite thing about this new book?

A. I love Agatha Black’s way of speaking, and her innocence and response in meeting the modern world.

Q. Do you have a favourite character in this book?

A. They are all very real to me. Agatha and Saul of course are favourites, and Agnes, and the pet monkey – and poor old Albert Black!

Q. If you met someone who had time travelled from the past what would you ask them?

A. How they did it!

Q. What do you like best about being an author?

A. All the money you make! Ha ha – joking! I like teetering on the edge in front of possibilities then jumping in and making someone that didn’t exist before.

Q. What was the hardest thing about writing a story involving time travel?

A. to make it seem like this could really happen. I like to write fantasy, but to write in such a way that this could be true.

Q. In the book Agatha has a performing pet monkey. Have you ever had unusual pets?

A. I had a tortoise that never woke up from its shoebox under my bed. Then, when I lived in France we had a yellow talking parrot called Jaco who was extremely annoying. Now I have a collie dog called Flora.

Q. If you lived in 1812 what job would you want to do?

A. Well, to be honest, I think I would like to be a man and be a travelling player.

Q. If you could travel to any point in history where would you go?

A. Way back, to Pictish times to see the land and the wild animals and to sit around a crackling log fire and see what people looked like 1000 years ago, and how they spoke.

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Book Info


24 pages
Interest Age: From 3


Janis Mackay
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Publication date

19th September 2013



Publisher Profile

Kelpies an imprint of Floris Books is an imprint of Kelpies


Floris Books celebrate quality children’s books with brilliant authors, engaging stories and a Scottish twist! They create books that capture children’s imaginations at all ages. Under 6s will have loads of fun with Picture Kelpies picture books, 9 to 12-year-olds will be whisked away by Kelpies and young teens will be gripped by KelpiesTeen novels.

Follow @DiscoverKelpies on Twitter or find them on Facebook at

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