Tales of an Old Sea Captain

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Tales of an Old Sea Captain
Author: Eiko Kadono
Specifications: ISBN  978-4834004410
384 pages
13.0 x 20.0 cm / 5.1 x 7.9 in (WxH)
Category: Children & YA
Ages: 10+
Publisher: Fukuinkan Shoten Publishers, Inc.
Tokyo, 1981
Buy now: amazon.co.jp


Ken, an asthmatic gradeschooler, goes to spend the summer with his mother in a rented cottage on the coast. There he meets an elderly sea captain and his cat, who move into a cottage up the hill. Drawn by the old sailor's whistling, Ken stops in for a visit, and discovers that he is remodeling his abode into a ship. On a cluttered table in the corner lies an odd assortment of things?a bright orange bird feather, an aluminum pan that has lost its handle, a handful of dried-up seeds, a dust-covered empty wine bottle, a square rock about ten centimeters on a side, a single tricycle pedal, and a glass with a thick, green substance of some kind in it. Treasures all, each one is associated with some marvelous tale of the captain's adventures on the seven seas, and every time Ken visits the captain shares one of the stories. Across the wide gap in their ages, their friendship deepens.

By the end of Ken's summer vacation, and partly with his help, the captain's cottage has been transformed almost completely into a ship. With just an anchor and a windlass it will be ready to set sail. Ken returns to Tokyo in much better health, and soon he receives a package containing the captain's treasures. In the accompanying letter, the captain says that he's been able to acquire an anchor and a windlass, and since he's already conquered the seven seas, it's time for him to set sail on the eighth. Picturing the captain once again sailing across the big blue ocean somewhere, Ken thinks about how someday he, too, wants to gather treasures like the captain?and to tell stories about them that will keep his listeners' hearts in their throats.