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Columbine: This rather touching short book deals with the experience of Gavin, a ten-year-old boy, in dealing with his grandfather’s illness. The presence of the selkie in the story is shadowy. It all starts when Gavin sees a seal close to shore and his Grandad tells him about selkies: “They’re seal-people, selkies. See them in the water, and they’re seals all right. But come ashore, and you wouldn’t know them from people.” Hearing that selkies have often married humans before being drawn back to the sea, Gavin guesses that his own family, who all love and work on the sea, might have selkie blood, and decides to call his new model boat Selkie. Just as Grandad suggests that he should first ask the selkies’ permission, he collapses and falls into a coma.

Gavin confusedly wonders if perhaps the selkie had somehow taken offence, and, also remembering that Grandad had said they sometimes lend a hand to people in trouble (though I suspect he meant, at sea), goes down to the shore to ask for permission and help if possible. After some weeks pass without Grandad waking up, the despairing and exhausted Gavin breaks down at the hospital:
“He was really weeping now, gasping for breath between his sobs… ‘Oh, selkie, help me,’ he croaked, as the tears streamed down his cheeks, down his nose. He licked them from his lips. They were salt, like the sea…
‘You wantin’ something, young laddie?…
A shape loomed out of the fog – somebody – who… ?…
‘I want my Grandad,’ he sobbed, like a small lost boy in a crowded market. ‘I want to talk to him.'”
Perhaps it is the selkie in human form, later Gavin decided he would never really know – in any case Gavin has an extraordinary experience in which he seems to swim in his grandfather’s mind, among his memories, and make contact with him. It is enough to make him feel he can face the future, whatever it may be, and the book ends just perfectly.

This book is called Inside Grandad in America.