Yearning for the Sea

by Stefani on 28-May-2009

Light. House.

Well even though we brought home our weight in sand, it is just not the same. 

We are all, in our own way, still longing for the beach. 

My middle son, who has always been crazy for sea creatures, was so inspired by our trip to the beach and the UT Coastal Studies Reasearch Lab. He's undertaken a new project – researching a creature a day and compiling the information and photos that he finds  into a "ship's log." He goes nowhere without his copy of Expert Guide: Marine LIfe

He's also been watching Blue Planet and Jean Michel-Cousteau online. It really is so amazing to think that all those strange and wonderful things lie beneath the surface of the deep.

We've eaten shrimp and drank frozen coconutty drinks while we watched Nim's Island (again) and Swiss Family Robinson (one of our faves). 

After they go to bed, you might find me drawing and painting fish with the Perfect Storm  playing in the background. (an interesting side note…. I was watching that movie when my water broke with our first baby. Funny, right? )

Fish Bits

We've taken a trip to the local fish store with our sketchbooks to draw and dream. The boys are making careful notes about the aquarium that they intend to open. ("Mama where do you suppose we could get a sting ray?")


We've been devouring seaside stories… 

and our latest read-aloud, which we are truly loving, Swallows and Amazons. 

And can I just tell you that after visiting this blog we are ALL imagining life aboard a boat?

Yet  in spite  of all that, our appetite for the ocean seams never to be quenched. So, friends, I'm coming to you with a request… 

Do you have a favorite island story? Can you think of a salty movie to share? Fish recipes, documentaries, websites? I'm looking for kid fare, and grown up stuff too. Bring on the fish tales!

Oh, and one more thing… a couple of folks have written to me to say that they are having problems leaving comments. I'm sorry about that. I have no idea what the issue is, but I'm working on it!
Jade May 28, 2009 at 9:17 am

z tejas fish taco recipe. you can google it. it’s one of our faves and regular meals!

Holly May 28, 2009 at 9:26 am

Well, this falls under completely hokey. I’m almost embarrassed to mention it, but as a child I loved “The Incredible Mr. Limpet.” I watched it as a movie (starring Don Knotts), so there you go. But, it’s completely hokey, like Pete’s Dragon magnified.

Newberry: The Life and Times of a Maine Clam by Vincent Gaston Dethier is simply a wonderful chapter book about, well, a clam and the surrounding ecosystem. But, really it’s a wonderful read aloud. You’re going to have to trust me, even though I recommended a Don Knotts movie. It’s out of print, but perhaps you can get your hand on a copy. It would be well worth it.

My last recommendation is an Antarctic documentary, Encounters at the End of the World. Most of it is about the people who chose to work at Antarctica, and is fascinating for that reason alone, but there are diving sequences that are amazing. It may need to be pre-viewed; I’m not sure if the kid-appropriaye-ness. The special features at the end are just the diving bits set to music and that would definitately be o.k. and spectacular.

A bit random, I know, perhaps not what you hoped for or expected, but it’s what I have :-). Good luck.

Anna May 28, 2009 at 10:04 am

As a kid, I really liked the Flipper tv series…not sure it really falls under learning anything really about ocean life, but hey.

As an adult, I have watched The Big Blue over and over…

That’s what comes to mind at the moment.

jm May 28, 2009 at 10:36 am

How about: Sea Stories compiled by Cooper Edens

See it here at Barnes and Noble’s site May 28, 2009 at 10:39 am

“Whale Rider” is a great movie that involves the sea as well as a fabulous story. Enjoy!!

Maria May 28, 2009 at 10:43 am

I don’t have any great ideas or thoughts (at least not right now) but you and your family have an open invite to come visit our ocean here in Maine!~

Colleen May 28, 2009 at 10:57 am

We are big Swallows and Amazons fans as well. My 11-year-old son highly recommends Peter Simple, which we got through interlibrary loan. The wonderful picturw book Peter’s Old House is about an old sailor. Also, for the younger crowd, Brave Tim and the Sea Captain, is a great book. Enjoy your sea explorations!

Stefanie May 28, 2009 at 11:04 am

I have to second “Whale Rider”. It is an incredible film on so many levels. The Planet Earth episode on shallow seas is also amazing if you can get your hands on a copy. For just a good old pirate story, you can’t beat “Treasure Island”. That is all that I can think of at the moment. Have fun.

Stefani May 28, 2009 at 11:14 am

Oh girl! You are speaking my language!
There is nothing at all like a Z Tejas fish taco!
I think the key is the sauce. The recipe we have makes TONS of the jalapeno dressing, so we end up eating it on everything!

Stefani May 28, 2009 at 11:16 am

Awesome! This is EXACTLY what I was hoping for.
And we are not above hokey here… we’re kinda hokey ourselves 🙂

Stefani May 28, 2009 at 11:31 am

I’ve never heard of Big Blue, and guess what? Netflix has the flipper series available!!! Thanks for the tips!

Diane May 28, 2009 at 11:32 am

Hey! We’re reading Swallows and Amazons here, too! Would you like some sea-faring music? Em’s been on a bit of a bender with it. Some of it is a little racy, but it’s good stuff… if you are at all interested I’ll send you some — say the word!

Stefani May 28, 2009 at 11:33 am

Oooooh! That DOES look good!
You can’t go wrong with classic stories and beautiful illustrations.
Thank you!

Stefani May 28, 2009 at 11:33 am

Officially added to the Netflix Queue! Thanks!

Stefani May 28, 2009 at 11:35 am

If I could figure out a way to get us there, we’d be knocking on your door in two shakes!
I think summer on the Maine shores sounds like heaven!

Stefani May 28, 2009 at 11:36 am

Those look like great books!
Have you read any of the other books in the S&A series? I was wondering if they were as good as the first.

Stefani May 28, 2009 at 11:38 am

Argh! What’s a pirate with a bit ‘o racy!?
Yes… yes bring on the tunes!

Amy J May 28, 2009 at 11:51 am

Have you guys read “Baby Island” by Carol Ryrie Brink? Maybe it’s too girly but we LOVE that book. And the Donald Silver book “One Small Square: Seashore” is great too. Also from the library are those “Be the Creature” shows. Today we watched Manatees and it was so great. There is also a lovely aquarium DVD at the library too that you guys might like.

Couldn’t you force them to sit and watch Finding Nemo just one more time? So sweet.

Kate May 28, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I loved The Big Blue – I had a giant movie poster for it on my wall all through high school. See it!

Brittany May 28, 2009 at 12:30 pm

I so totally understand, my 4 year old has asked to war a swimsuit everyday since we’ve returned from the beach and my 2 year old keeps asking for sand. If you are not opposed to Disney, Lilo and Stitch gives a very good beach vibe and don’t forget Island of the Blue Dolphins (book and movie)! We also love the book How I Became a Pirate which is beach-ish. You could always put all your beach photos on a slideshow loop and relive it all over again!

Jaime May 28, 2009 at 12:38 pm

A little bit of self-promotion here. My husband wrote a great young adults novel called The Nightmare Tree.
It’s a fun adventure story that involves sailing, mermaids, pirates and even a Cyclops. Although it’s technically written for young adults we know of many younger kids who have enjoyed it.

krommama May 28, 2009 at 12:45 pm

one of our favorite books that we are rereading now is “pagoo” by holling c. holling. it’s the life of a hermit crab. my kids always beg for me to read more.

grace May 28, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Hi. Do you have link for the version of the Swiss Family Robinson movie you watched? Would love to share that with my children.
Thanks – enjoy your sea adventures.

Butzeballchen May 28, 2009 at 1:21 pm

If you haven’t seen the NOVA episode about cuttlefish you should check it out. We loved it!

BOATBABY May 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Whoa – I am honored and humbled that you would post a link to my blog here. Thank you!
And do I ever have some titles and favorites to share.
For starters, a little known album of salty audio stories for kids with salty music to boot.
It’s called Saltarello by Jessie Modic. Fun for all ages!

Then my ALL TIME favorite sea themed kids book is called: BUOY by Bruce Balan. Poetic short stories that have a cadence when read outloud that’s almost as soothing as riding the waves by sail. So sweet for little ones and grown ups too.

I should do the others in another comment…

BOATBABY May 28, 2009 at 1:38 pm

moving on…
Salty group of sea chaty singing scurvy dogs…
The Seadogs (album called The Paddy West School of Seamanship) Everyone will want to sing along and get a tattoo.

BOATBABY May 28, 2009 at 1:42 pm
angela May 28, 2009 at 6:14 pm

A great book…The Cay by Theodore Taylor. Love it! Also, one of my personal, grown-up favs is The Old Man and the Sea. I love the beach and all things sandy and shell-y and salty. It doesn’t really get any better than that!

Katherine May 28, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Our favorite Aquarium in the whole world (and conveniently close to us) has a great website with games, activities, crafts etc.

They also have an online animal guide which might be useful…

Melanie May 28, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Ever since watching a Nature episode on PBS about the Monteray Bay Aquarium…we’re a family obsessed and will be planning a road trip in the future (what a great drive from here in Oregon down through the Red Woods!). Anyway, the aquarium has a great site with lots of things for kids (plus a live cam on some of the animals). . Enjoy!

Hannah May 28, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Jim Weiss of Greathall Productions does a wonderful retelling of Treasure Island, which my children all love. Also, there is an IMAX video available through Netflix called “The Living Sea.” And an old childhood favorite, not sure if it’s still in print (I got our current copy used): Amos and Boris.

annie May 29, 2009 at 4:37 am

I have a recommendation for an adult book… Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. It is an incredieble story of a rogue whale that attacks and destroys a whaling ship, leaving the crew to have to survive very harrowing circumstances. Moby Dick is loosely based on this incident (one of Melville’s relatives was on the Essex). Great way for adults to learn about the whaling industry and life in New England whaling towns,


Lorilee Kopp May 29, 2009 at 5:56 am

OK blue yonder gang. I have some very special information for you. You will be blown away. You need to study the cuttlefish. The most amazing animal on this planet. Check out Nova’s DVD special Cuttlefish: Kings of Camoflauge. They don’t live in the America’s so most people don’t even know about them. They are marvelous cephalopods! We love the ocean here too. So very much. Someday we will be investigating tidepools. A day we look forward to very much.

Glad you are lovin on the ocean! So many mysteries. Tobin tells everyone he meets that he is a Marine Biologist and one day will help save the ocean. I just love that 🙂

BOATBABY May 29, 2009 at 6:11 am

My husband is a Cuttlefish groupie if there is such a thing. He goes around sometimes telling complete strangers all about the wonders of the Cuttlefish. 🙂
Great suggestion MamaKopp

Melanie May 29, 2009 at 6:56 am

Raine and I have been enjoying Jules Verne The Mysterious Island. Hallmark made it into a 2 part movie awhile back and it is really great. Your boys will love the scientific parts of it not to mention the islands giant animals…Enjoy

patricia May 29, 2009 at 8:19 am

Oops–just before I posted, I noticed that someone else already recommended this one, but I’ll post anyway, since mine was a longer ramble:

For tidepools, have you read Holling Clancy Holling’s Pagoo? I think I remember you reading other HC Holling stories, so maybe you already know it. It’s a “story” of a hermit crab and his world, and it’s based on very in-depth research that the author and his wife (I think) did on tidepools. It’s full of sketches of tidepool life, which would be great inspiration for young nature sketchers. We learned so much when we read it–all the more fun when we got back to the tidepools.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium website has some neat stuff, especially the webcams:

I love the idea of your son’s ships log. So great when they come up with neat projects for themselves!

Tara May 29, 2009 at 8:27 am

Our favorites – for the 4-8 range I think are:
One Morning in Maine and Burt Dow, Deep Water Man by Robert McClosky
Amos and Boris by William Steig

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:39 am

Ooooh! Great ideas. That One Small Square one looks right up our alley!

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:40 am

Aw… I had forgotten about Lilo. My youngest would so love to watch that!

And Blue Dolphins! Going on the library list!

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:41 am

It looks wonderful!
Thank you so much for brining it to my attention! I think it sounds like it would make a great read aloud for my sea-faring adventurers.

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:42 am

You know what? We’ve got Paddle to the Sea and Tree in the Trail, but we haven’t done Pagoo. Must try to get my hands on that one!

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:44 am

You bet!
We have the 1960 version on DVD.
It’s on Amazon under “Swiss Family Robinson Disney Vault”

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:45 am


Thank you thank you for all these great suggestions.
I’m going to have to print your list and carry it off to the library!

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:45 am

Oh…. I’m a little scared to show them that. They’ll be after us to get to see the real thing too!

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:46 am

You know, I have heard such good things about his stories and ahve yet to have one. This sounds like just the one to start with. Thanks!

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:46 am

“life in New England Whaling Towns”… sold!

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:47 am

Who knew?
I don’t know that I could tell you a single thing about a cuttlefish. I guess I’d better learn!

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:47 am

Well we do love us some Jules Verne. Thanks for the tip!

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:48 am

We love Holling C. Holling but had yet to see this one. Thanks for the reminder!!!

Stefani May 29, 2009 at 9:48 am

“Deep Water Man”… love the sound of that! Thank you!

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