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Quotes at the top,
full reviews below

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These stories have captured the ocean
so it takes your breath away…
New York Times Book Review
This is a wonderful story!
CBS This Morning
Balan is too clever a writer to resist for long…
San Jose Mercury News
The dialog is as simple and insightful as A.A. Milne’s.
Family Fun Magazine
A series of lyrical vignettes that range from poignant to precious…
this handsome package makes a dandy gift for those who,
like Buoy, feel at home near the sea.
Publishers Weekly
Balan spins a simple story of an ocean life, embedding
his quiet philosophy of the interconnectedness of all things, the
importance of friendship, the fragile ecology of our planet, and
the deep mysticism of being — messages that have inspired some
to compare this small book to
The Little Prince and
Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
This book is a noteworthy addition to our literature,
both for children and adults… you will find profound echoes
sounding in your consciousness for a long, long, time.

Kip Nead, Bookseller/Reviewer

BuoyBook.jpg (9550 bytes)
Karin Snelson

If you've ever gazed dreamily out to sea, spotted a lone buoy bobbing and blinking, and let your imagination float along with it, you'll find a friend in Bruce Balan's Buoy. It's not such a lonely life for Buoy--after all, Gull is usually perched atop his red light, and Seal lounges at his "feet." These three friends live a rewarding life under the Sky and Stars--enriched by visits from Shark, a raft of Crabs floating on an old egg carton, and even a singing pod of Whales: "Porpoise said [the Whales' song] told of the first day of the Sea. And how the first Whale swam on that first day. And how the first Whale sang. And how the song created itself and everything else as well. There was much more, but it was too ancient for any of them ever to grasp."

Buoys will be buoys--he lives for a "Ship-Coming." When a ship does come, he flashes his light and proudly rings his bell, whispering, "Stay to the west" to shield the ship from danger. Buoy also saves a family adrift during a storm, makes music with his friends, analyzes the Green Flash that occurs just before sunset, plays games with the Clouds, and engages in debates with his Sea-dwelling friends. In gentle, winsome prose, Balan spins a simple story of an ocean life, embedding his quiet philosophy of the interconnectedness of all things, the importance of friendship, the fragile ecology of our planet, and the deep mysticism of being--messages that have inspired some to compare this small book to The Little Prince and Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Raúl Colón, illustrator of Tomás and the Library Lady and A Weave of Words graces Balan's poetic text with his radiant, textured scratchboard illustrations that capture the exuberant, uplifting--can we say buoyant?--spirit of Buoy and his buddies. (All ages)



The sea is full of great stuff: the things you can see, the weird and marvelous creatures, the serendipitous finders of treasures, the textures and patterns and colors. And then there are the things you can only hear or feel. The sea brings you these things and strips you clean, in ways that voices as varied as Homer or Melville or Anne Morrow Lindbergh have described. Here are three new voices, three love letters that say in just enough words each what it is about the sea their authors cherish so very much. Listen to ''Buoy'':

''Buoy rolled lazily on the long low swell of the Sea. Buoy lived far from land; so far that only on the days when the Clouds raced against each other and the Wind seemed a bit angry, could Buoy just barely, ever so slightly, make out something to the east that was neither the Sea nor the Sky. But Buoy didn't mind at all. He loved the Sea and the Sky. He loved their blueness and wondered how it could be that his redness complemented them so perfectly.''
... ... ...

Can you see it? Can you hear it? These stories have captured the ocean so it takes your breath away. And like the best children's books, they're not really children's books at all.
... ... ...

Buoy is the hero of ''Buoy.'' He loves his job and works very hard at it. ''Closer and closer. Larger and larger. The ship seemed to grow out of the Sea. Buoy felt its thrumming deep inside his belly. He rolled with the swell. He flashed his light and rang his bell. 'Stay to the west,' he whispered. 'Stay to the west.' '' Buoy has two buddies, Gull and Seal, and their days are marked by things like whale songs and oil slicks and a shark's passing. The whales are mysterious, and Buoy yearns for them; Shark is calm and pragmatic and speaks in lowercase letters only; the passing green flash is a conundrum each pal solves in his or her own way. (Seal, it turns out, is a she.) It is clear from the text that Bruce Balan is a sailor. Raul Colon's illustrations are like etched poems: both black-and-white and full-color plates that suggest the pictures already in your mind's eye.



New York Times
Penelope Green
19 July 1998
Family Life Magazine
September 1998
Far out at sea, Buoy and his friends, Gull and Seal, experience the infinite pleasures and challenges of being. Buoy will touch the hearts of parents and children alike with a deceptively powerful story that is at once simple and complex, ethereal and formidable, a literary dance across the waves that celebrates life both when it is as bright as sunlight on water and when it becomes as ferocious as the hunger of an endlessly circling shark.



In "Buoy: Home at Sea" by Bruce Balan, Buoy provides a home at sea for his two friends, Gull and Seal. In a series of short tales, they experience life at sea: visitors like Shark, boats large and small, and the wonders of nature. The author's love of the sea is apparent in his thoughtful, uncomplicated prose. Children as well as adults should enjoy this short stay at sea, sharing the three friends' thoughts and experiences of everyday life in an environment that in many ways is not so different from ours on land. I recommend this as a great gift as well as an enjoyable and inspiring read at the beach.



Los Angeles Times
Robert Blakey
1 October 1998
CBS This Morning
Valerie Lewis
7 July 1998
"Buoy, Home at Sea. This is a wonderful story. I think there are 16 short little stories in here and they all take place with Buoy right in the sea with all of his sea creatures. And they're wonderful, quiet and somewhat poetic. And I think when you're on vacation, they're perfect - for reading a story a night, or a story driving along in the car or on the airplane."



Once you've read Bruce Balan's delightful Buoy, Home at Sea (Delacorte; all ages) you will look at those common buoys bobbing on the ocean in a new way. If a lapping wave causes the buoy to dip and rock and his bell to ring, you might even find yourself wondering how his day was and what adventures he is having in his ocean world. Buoy is a book the whole family can enjoy.

Very young children will enjoy this gentle poetic story of an ocean buoy, a seagull and a seal. The story is deceptively simple and older children will appreciate the poetic writing, the relationship between the three friends as well as the thoughtful messages. As for adults, I've been loaning this book out to rave reviews.

Beautifully and sensitively written, Buoy is enchanting and a must-read this summer! The story ends as Buoy muses happily about his little world, "Yes, he thought, this is home." Home - a perfect place for summertime reading adventures.



Connecticut Parent
Kristine George
July 1998
What's New In Books
San Mateo County Reading Association
Three friends, the buoy, a seal and a seagull observe and comment on the ocean and the ocean life around them. Lovely descriptions. Good for environmental studies and creative writing.



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