The Call of the Swamp
The Call of the Swamp

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Annotation: Boris, a swamp creature who was adopted by human parents, starts to question where he truly belongs.
Catalog Number: #148645
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Graphic Novel Graphic Novel Manga Manga
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Illustrator: Soma, Marco,
Pages: 26
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8028-5486-9 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99099-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8028-5486-5 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99099-9
Dewey: E
LCCN: 2017003417
Dimensions: 29 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Boris doesn't look like his parents, a pair of humans who definitely don't have gills. Boris more closely resembles an axolotl, with frilled red appendages emerging from his pink, round face. But his parents love him regardless, and he's mostly happy. One day, though, he catches the smell of the swamp on the wind, and he realizes he doesn't quite belong in the human world, so he follows his nose back home. But is the swamp really home? Somà's delicate, fine-lined artwork, in an evocative blend of dusky blues, foggy grays, and warm natural hues, combines realistic renderings of birds, wildlife, and architecture with dreamlike images, like luminescent underwater flowers or Boris' house sitting atop tree branches and inside a giant bottle. The whimsical, otherworldly nature of the illustrations nicely matches Cali's fablelike text, particularly Boris, who manages to look very childlike despite his salamander head. The warm conclusion, that family is made up of people who love you, even if they don't look like you, is a cozy one ideal for kids who feel like outsiders.
Kirkus Reviews
An Italian import confronts questions of identity, belonging, and family.The story begins with a folkloric sensibility as it introduces a white couple who "had given up hope that they would ever have any" children. They find a "newborn" child in a swamp and ignore his unusual appearance, including gills, large eyes, and, instead of hair, the watercolor-and-ink illustrations add spiky appendages that look like sea anemones atop his head. In an initially troubling turn for a fantasy positioning itself as an adoption allegory, the couple decides it doesn't matter whether the baby's parents abandoned him or died; they simply name him Boris and take him home. Boris grows up happily enough, but the titular call of the swamp beckons, and he leaves home to reconnect with the swamp. He communes with creatures who, though realistic animals, look something like him, and he delights in his swampy surroundings. His compassionate parents, in gestures that belie their initial insensitivity, leave notes reading "If you're happy where you are, then we're happy too." But—"How much are we really like those who look like us?" Boris wonders as he begins to feel there's nowhere he belongs and notices differences between himself and the swamp creatures. An affecting, emotional open ending concludes the story, resisting a happily-ever-after tone as Boris departs to reunite with his parents. A melancholy contemporary folk tale. (Picture book. 4-8)
Publishers Weekly
In a moody exploration of belonging from the duo behind The Queen of the Frogs, a childless couple discovers an infant by the edge of a swamp. Ignoring that the baby -had gills like a fish,- they name him Boris and raise him as their own. (Readers who know their aquatic animals will recognize that Boris is an axolotl.) Though Boris likes riding bikes and climbing trees like human children, he longs for something else: -He woke up in the dead of night, feeling like he was suffocating. And he was thirsty. Always thirsty.- Somà-s otherworldly artwork pays homage to Escher in his use of tessellation, metamorphosis, and encroaching foliage: autumn leaves morph into airborne fish as Boris catches a whiff of the -salty smell- of the swamp. Cali isn-t afraid to ask big, philosophical questions, and although some of Boris-s ruminations are spelled out a bit plainly (-His mom and dad had wanted him even though they didn-t have gills.... Maybe our family is simply the ones we love? And the ones who love us back?-) the story-s fairy tale-like quality and melancholic images leave a haunting impression. Ages 4-9. (Sept.)

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2Readers will never encounter a more likable and endearing creature than this swamp baby. Neither had Boris's parents, who struggled with infertility and happened upon him during a remote drive. "When the couple found a newborn at the edge of the swamp, it seemed like a gift from heaven, and they paid no attention to the fact that he had gills like a fish." Boris's sinuous sea-fanlike hair and his mangrove in a jar don't hinder him from making friends, attending school, and doing other kid things. But the mangrove begins losing leaves and the scent of the swamp lures Boris. He begins asking questions like, "Why did you take me home, Mom?" and "Why didn't you leave me where I was?" A return to the swamp is predictable in a way that will make young children feel safe, but adventuresome at the same time. Boris eventually comes to the profound realization, "Maybe our family is simply the ones we love? And the ones who love us back?" Translated from Italian, Watkinson's work feels smooth and natural without any bumps or glitches. Somà brings rich golden and deep teal hues to to the gray-browns of the swamp. Muted earth tones feel magical rather than muddy. Parents will hold back the tears as mom and dad give Boris the space to discover his identity and little ones will relate to stretching one's wings and learning to make choices. VERDICT At home on the shelf with Suzanna Lopez's The Best Family in the World, Cali's tender text is an even more honest look at the real emotions of adoptees. Best shared one-on-one.Kristy Kilfoyle, Canterbury School, Fort Myers, FL
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (9/1/17)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (9/1/17)
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: K-3
Lexile: AD620L

From the creators of The Queen of the Frogs comes an enchanting, nuanced yet sweetly offbeat story about adoption and family. Illustrations.


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