|By Toni Buzzeo|
I hold my Auntie Maita’s papery hand. Together we stare at the shiny photo in her lap, touched so often with hope, the edges curl. My heartbeat rushes in an impatient waltz as we watch for the stranger to arrive.So begins this fictional story based on a Maine legend. A lighthouse keeper and his daughter, Maita, find a sea chest from a sunken ship washed up on the shore of their little island after a disastrous storm. In it, they discover a baby girl. The family takes the baby in and raises her as their own. The following pages describe their life together, beautifully illustrating that it’s not merely biology that creates a loving family. It isn’t until the final page that we learn the story has come full circle.
While we wait, Auntie Maita remembers her childhood on a rocky Maine island eighty years ago and more....
Auntie Maita grows silent, and now I pause to remember my great-grandmother’s whispery voice, sharing her stories of two island girls.The author uses rich, vivid language pieced together in a poetic cadence that make this book a pleasure both to read and to hear. Artist Mary GrandPré, famed for her Harry Potter illustrations, perfectly captures the different moods of the book. Her brilliant use of light and color creates evocative pictures that make the reader want to crawl right into them. This is a book that is engaging for all ages from preschoolers to adults.
But my dancing heart can’t be still for long. Tripping wildly, it beats out a waiting rhythm. Behind me, Great-Grandmother Seaborne’s oldest possession, a cracked and worn sea chest, lined with an eiderdown quilt, waits open on the table, for the tiny stranger my mama and papa have gone to fetch from so far across the wide Atlantic.
To be my sister.