When Sarah Hastings first heard the story of Shoebert , the gray seal who made Beverly’s Shoe Pond his adopted home this fall, she immediately thought his story would make a great children’s book. So Hastings, a lifelong North Shore resident with a background in early childhood education, decided to write and illustrate it herself.
“I just fell in love with him right away,” says Hastings.
The result of her efforts is Shoebert the Traveling Seal, a charming book for toddlers and early readers, telling the story of the seal that captivated the North Shore – and beyond – with his adventure from the ocean, up the Bass River, and into the freshwater pond in the heart of Beverly. The colorfully illustrated 28-page book uses rhyming verse to tell the story of Shoebert’s arrival, his fame, and his eventual return to the sea where he belongs.
Though the book was released on November 26, it is already a hit: It has already sold out its initial run of 500 copies and the publisher is already accepting pre-orders for a second run, which should be available by the week of December 12. The paperback is selling for $14.99 and, for each book sold, $1 will be donated to the Mystic Aquarium, where Shoebert was cared for before he was released back into the wild.
The book is published by Industry Books, a micro-publisher run by the owners of the Bookshop of Beverly Farms. The publisher ran the book by animal rescue efforts at Mystic Aquarium for accuracy, and received their, ahem, seal of approval.
“A remarkable true story that sheds light on the journey this seal had and the village that came together to ensure a safe return back to his ocean home,” says Sarah Callan, manager of the aquarium’s animal rescue program.
Shoebert first made news in September, when locals spotted him in the pond next to Beverly’s Cummings Center, an unexpected location for a marine mammal. Shoebert quickly gained social media fame, but eventually the seal “turned himself in,” waddling into the parking lot of the Beverly Police Department. He was sent to Mystic Aquarium to be rehabbed and was released in water off Block Island Sounds, but quickly found his way back north, popping up along the coastline in October. He is now fitted with a satellite tracker that will allow scientists to follow his movements and learn more about the range and habits of gray seals.
“It’s so fun to be working with such a feel-good story, right in our backyard,” says Hannah Harlow, CEO of Industry Books. “Like everyone else in town, I followed Shoebert’s story closely and Sarah captures it beautifully. We’re so happy that she brought this to us.”