A Place for Birds
Discover the surprising ways seashells provide more than shelter to the mollusks that inhabit them in this fascinating introduction to the remarkable versatility of shells. Seashells can pry like a crowbar, flit and flutter like a butterfly, let in light like a window, and much, much more. Rich, elegant watercolor illustrations create a scrapbook feel, depicting children from around the world observing and sketching seashells across shores.
Take a look at Melissa’s Seashells Pinterest board for more resources and teaching ideas.
Honors and Awards
Connecticut Nutmeg Book Award Nominee
Correll Book Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Informational Text
Cybils Award Finalist, Elementary Nonfiction
Junior Library Guild Selection
Keystone to Reading Elementary Book Award Finalist
Land of Enchantment Book Award Nominee
Missouri Dogwood Book List for Nonfiction
Picture Book Look Summer Book Club Pick
Behind the Book
“The idea for this book popped into my mind when I saw Sarah S. Brannen’s gorgeous sketches for our book Feathers: Not Just for Flying. On the final page, a boy is running along the beach as gulls soar overhead. I imagined that boy shifting his attention from the birds above him to the seashells scattered along the sandy shore, and then heading off on a new voyage of discovery. I connected with that boy because, in many ways, he was me.

“I’ve been fascinated by shells since childhood, when I spent summer vacations beachcombing on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. As an adult, I’ve explored beaches all over the world, from Costa Rica and the Galápagos Islands to Hawaii, Great Britain, and Kenya. I began my research for this book by looking through all my travel journals. Then I read every shell book and article I could find. I scoured the internet and spoke to a half-dozen scientists. After two years of work, I came to a sad conclusion. I couldn’t find enough information to write the book. I’d have to give up.

“But then, a year later, I went to a seashell exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and found a newly published seashell book in the bookstore. I couldn’t believe it! Not only did the book have examples I could use, it helped me develop a whole new way of searching for information. After just a few more weeks of research, I was finally ready to write.”
starred review“In this handsome companion volume to the ALA Notable book Feathers: Not Just for Flying (2014), Stewart and Brannen provide insights into why seashells vary so greatly in shape, size, and color. Beyond providing protection for aquatic animals, shells sometimes offer forms of locomotion, disguise, warnings, tools, and waste removal…. The beautiful watercolor paintings work seamlessly with the text to clarify concepts, while keeping the book’s audience in mind. Suggesting new ways to think about seashells, this volume is highly recommended for science collections.”
Booklist, starred review
“A well-researched addition to the ocean biome canon, Seashells is unique in that it pairs form with function. Both the text and illustrations present information that is easy to digest and understand… The language is not too informational or too poetic; it is just the right amount of colorful and interesting… A delightful addition to an elementary library's nonfiction collection.”
School Library Journal
“This well-executed book … deliver[s] information in an engaging, accessible way. Each spread brings to light well-researched examples of shells readers may have seen on the beach. However, now they will be able to understand the reasons for these shells’ shapes and configurations … an empowering, engaging, informative treat!”
The News-Gazette, Champaign, IL
“Seashells: More than a Home is a perfect example of the remarkable talent Stewart brings to the research, insights, and writing of science picture books … The tone of this book makes it a delight for read aloud for even the youngest. The flowing main narrative provides familiar comparisons of various shell adaptations to increase survival, and Stewart's figurative language provides a pattern for early language development.”
Unpacking the Power of Picture Books blog
“Ideal for explorations in science, language arts, and social studies, for whole class and small group explorations, and for quiet re-readings by shell-lovers and beachcombers, Seashells: More than a Home has many roles to play in the classroom and beyond.”
The Classroom Bookshelf
“a fascinating overview of 13 kinds of shells. Stewart uses analogies from everyday life to help readers understand how ‘these treasures from a secret world beneath the waves’ house clams, snails, oysters, and other creatures. Sarah S. Brannen brings the narrative to life with watercolor scenes of boys and girls exploring the seashore… This fun, fact-filled book will inspire up-and-coming collectors while equipping them with important information.”
Book Page
“Stewart crafts perfect similes coupled with tidbits of information to convey the importance and wonder of shells. Brannen's illustrations add the perfect touch.”
Plum Creek Children's Literature Festival Director, Concordia University, Seward, NE
Seashells: More Than a Home
Melissa Stewart
illustrated by
Sarah S. Brannen
Charlesbridge, 2019
for ages 5-9
978-1-58089-810-2 (HC)
978-1-62354-173-6 (PB)
Purchase this book at your local independent bookseller or Amazon.com.
Feathers: Not Just for Flying
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