Title of Book: See the Ocean
Author: Estelle Condra
Illustrator: Linda Crockett-Blassingame
Publisher: Ideal’s Children’s Books
Audience: K – 3rd grade
Summary: Nellie and her brothers Gerald and Jamin always go on a family vacation to See the Ocean. They always have a contest to see who will be able to see the ocean first. Nellie usually never plays with her brothers until one year Nellie was the only one that could see ocean. This is a compassionate story about a girl that, although blind, can see the world in her mind and spirit.
Literary elements at work in the story: The story reminds you of yearly family vacations. The reader will experience the day in the cool salt water, play with siblings, stories told by parents and laughter shared among them all. The story takes you through the beach vacations when Nellie was a little baby until she is a young girl. The poetic imagery used when Nellie describes the ocean is captivating and paints a vivid picture in the mind of the reader. In this picture book, the oil paintings support the story well.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/abilities/disabilities/economic: The story is about a Caucasian family (a mother, father, and three siblings) taking a yearly beach trip to see the ocean. Their daughter, Nellie, is blind. Although this story portrays the family to be of one race this story can easily apply to any race or culture.
Theological Conversation Partners:
John Calvin explains that there is an inherited notion that we all have implanted within that God gives us awareness of God. “God has implanted in all men a certain understanding of his divine majesty (Institutes pg. 43). All creation has come to the knowledge of God to the extent that God “repeatedly sheds fresh drops” of this knowledge to us in an attempt to renew our memory and awareness of God on a regular basis. We cannot deny this awareness that is given from God to all and to do so is of our own doing because we all have been given the awareness from birth.
For Calvin, another way we know God is through creation. “…he not only sowed in men’s minds that seed of religion of which we have spoken but revealed himself and daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe. As a consequence men can not open their eyes without being compelled to see him” (Institutes pg. 51-52). Calvin points to the nature of God as our creator and in observing God’s creation we can come to know God. The universe becomes as a “mirror in which we can contemplate God, who is otherwise invisible” (Institutes pg. 52-53).
We also come to a knowledge of God not in the searching for him but in the awareness of God’s mighty works at play in our lives on a consistent basis. We come to this awareness not on our own but by God’s revelation to us through God’s works. Calvin says that we come to this knowledge of God’s mighty words through the revealing spectacles of scripture. The true knowledge of God, for Calvin, is found in scripture. Calvin says that scripture is like spectacles. The scripture gives us a clear picture or knowledge of who God is without confusion
Faith Talk Questions:
- Where did Nellie’s family go every year?
- Did Nellie like the ocean? How do you know?
- How did her parents explain the ocean to her?
- What competition did the siblings have on the way to the ocean?
- Did Nellie participate? Why do you think she did or didn’t?
- Who saw the ocean first on the last trip?
- How did she know what it looked like?
- What experiences have helped you to form an image of what God looks like?
- What experiences have helped you to know God?
- How does scripture help you to know God?
- What do you think God looks like?
- Who is God to you?
- Draw a picture, create a collage, or write a poem or letter to express who God is to you.
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Phanta Lansden.
See the Ocean by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.