Greyling (1991 edition)

Greyling by Jane Yolen, illustrated by David Ray.
Originally published by World Publishing, 1968, with illustrations by William Stobbs.
This edition by Philomel, 1991.



Greyling is different from the other selkie stories we've read or watched. First of all, the selkie in this story is a boy. Second, no one takes away his sealskin. He becomes a human baby out of the water, and once he returns to the sea, he becomes a seal again.


I love Jane Yolen. When I was pinning selkie pictures and media to reference later, I came across multiple selkie books under her name. This book was first published in 1968, with illustrations by the Kate Greenaway Medal-winning William Stobbs. I'm very disappointed that my library did not have this version. In fact, my library has very little by William Stobbs. Looking at Pinterest search results, I can tell I would love his style.

David Ray's paintings for the 1991 edition have their charm, though. And Yolen's text is beautiful.

There is a fisherman and his wife. They love each other, but long for a child. One day at sea, the fisherman finds an orphaned seal cub. He wraps it in his coat and brings it home.


When the wife unwraps the bundle, however, she finds a baby! A strange baby boy, with grey eyes and hair.


They raise their son and love him, but while the boy helps at home, he is not allowed to go near the sea. His parents fear what he might become if he ever went into the water.

Then one day, a terrible storm blows in. The wife runs into the town to find someone to help save her husband, who is on his boat. No one will volunteer. The young man rushes to the edge of the rocks and dives into the water.






The fisherman is saved, but their son has returned to the sea. He comes to see them, but he will not be their son on land again.

It's a very bittersweet tale, as you can see.

If I ever come across the original edition of the book, I will be sure to share it here. Neither version is in print any longer, so the library or used book store/website is the way to go.


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