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Book details
  • SubGenre:Fantasy & Magic
  • Language:English
  • Pages:40
  • Format:Hardcover
  • Hardcover ISBN:9781098355883


The Tale of a Very Special Sea Monster

by Leslie Kaufman View author's profile page

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Gracie is an illustrated book for children ages 5 – 12 that tells the story of a very special sea monster living in the Chesapeake Bay. Two children, a brother and a sister, discover her existence on an old map and find to their astonishment that she can talk. Gracie proceeds to tell them, and show them, many stories about her life in the past and the present that provide new insights into the history and ecology of the Bay, as well as to the relationship between brother and sister.



Havva, age 7, and her brother Peter, age 9, have recently moved to the town of Havre de Grace on the upper Chesapeake Bay. On the day they arrive, they ride their bikes to explore their new community and discover an old run-down boathouse. After entering, Havva opens a dusty trunk to find an old map, while Peter leaves to explore outside. To her surprise, Havva encounters Gracie, the sea monster who lives on the map. She and Gracie start a conversation, and when Peter returns, he learns that he can communicate with her too. Gracie thrills the children by taking them with her as she relives her stories of fierce battles in Chesapeake Bay history, and moving encounters with her marine friends who are struggling to survive in polluted water.  The children learn from Gracie and in the end, learn about themselves and the world around them, as well as the power of the imagination.


About the author

Leslie Kaufman is a writer, artist, educator and curator raised on Long Island, NY who has lived in Philadelphia since 1977. After receiving her BA in English from Colgate University, she received her M. Ed. in counseling psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She started her professional career as a college counselor and then returned to school to get an M.F.A. from Vermont College of Art. She was the founder and is the current president of Philadelphia Sculptors, a professional nonprofit organization of sculptors in existence since 1996. She has exhibited her sculptures nationally and internationally, and enjoys producing and participating in collaborative, alternative, and public art projects. Through Philadelphia Sculptors she has originated far-ranging exhibitions of site-specific installations While Gracie is her first children's book, she has a great deal of experience as a published writer, having been a contributor to Sculpture Magazine and Inside Magazine. The idea forGracie originated with her connection to the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, where she is a board member. After viewing a carved wooden head of a sea monster that was donated to the Museum, she was inspired to create a back story that would appeal to children and focus on elements of history and ecology of the Chesapeake Bay where the Museum is located. Additional interests include a community project to preserve the last remaining "wilderness" in her neighborhood in Philadelphia, and imaginative efforts to see how art can be used to help provide new perspectives on social and environmental problems. She is passionate about language and that, plus her abiding interest in creativity of all kinds, continues to inspire her to explore new avenues of expression.

About The Illustrator

Holly Smith is an illustrator, painter, and sculptor. Her two previous picture books are Moon Over Bioko: Sea Turtles of BiokoIsland and Chatter in the Caldera: Monkeys of Bioko Island, both by Heidi Rader. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with two cats of questionable character.

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