Seashells for Katie and Andy by Solveig Paulson Russell, illustrated by Marjorie Cooper, 1973.

This is a cute little picture book that presents information about seashells in story form.

Katie and Andy are at the beach with their grandmother. As the children collect seashells, their grandmother tells them what kind of shells they are and a little about them.

The shells included in the book are: coquina shells, cowrie shells, triton shells, conch shells, lace murex, olive shells, scallop shells, and limpets.

Toward the end of the book, the kids ask their grandmother if they can find shells anywhere else besides the beach, and she tells them about snail shells.

The grandmother also tells the children about different uses people have for seashells. She talks about how they can be used for jewelry, vases, and decorations of different kinds. She also mentions that they can be broken up and used in roads, but the children don’t like the idea of breaking shells.

My Reaction

This book is nostalgic for me because my own grandmother was an amateur naturalist, and she used to give us gifts of seashells that she found in her own travels. Some of the shells in my old collection still have labels with the names of the shells in my grandmother’s handwriting.

In the beginning of the book, there is a note to parents and teachers from the National College of Education in Evanston, Illinois about how the information in the book is educationally sound. I don’t have anything to criticize about the information in the book except one instance where the grandmother talks about “Indians” making necklaces from a certain type of shell. I’m pretty sure from context that they mean American Indians and not people from India, but I think that “American Indians” or “Native Americans” would be better terms to use for the sake of clarity.

They never say exactly where the beach in the story is, which would make a difference in the types of shells that the characters might find. Most of the shells covered in the book have a pretty broad worldwide distribution, but I suspect from the selection of shells given that the characters are probably in the Southeastern United States.

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