HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Sea Pup
Author: Archie Binns
Illustrator: Ted Hanke
Publisher: Meredith Press, reprinted in 1968
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 10-14
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Binns, Archie. Sea Pup (published in 1954 by Duell, Sloan and Pearce; republished c. 1958 by Scholastic Book Services, a division of Scholastic Magazines Inc., 50 W. 44th St., New York City, NY 10036). Thirteen year old Clint Barlow lives with his dad Jim, who is a logging trucker, his mom, and his two dogs Wolf and Jerry, at Barlow’s Landing on Hood Canal in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. One day while sailing around the Sound, Clint finds a newborn baby seal whose mother has been shot and killed. He brings the little thing home, cares for it, and names it Buster. It becomes a pet. However, as Buster grows into an adult seal, his laughable antics begin to cause trouble in the neighborhood, the majority of it totally unintentional and mostly harmless. But something will eventually need to be done. What will it be? When the time comes, will Clint have the strength to do it? And what will ultimately happen to Buster?
This story of a boy and his seal provides an enjoyable window to childhood in Washington during the mid-twentieth century. The original publication had illustrations by Robert Candy. When Scholastic republished the book, they had new illustrations by Ted Hanke and renamed it Here, Buster! However, later Scholastic editions returned the original title. There are a few common euphemisms (darn, gee, heck) and some references to seal evolution from bears and other things that are said to have taken place millions of years ago. Also, Clint’s dad smokes a pipe. Though some critics may think that it is dated by its gender-defined roles of mother and father, the truth is that it presents a good picture of a happy, well-adjusted family that those of us who hold to a Biblical worldview will appreciate. Kirkus Reviews said, “Not another Yearling, but in its own heartfelt way, good reading.” I agree. There is apparently a 1967 sequel, Sea Pup Again.