Lorraine Passero, author, and friend of Lynnes', pictured with Jon Seeman, her husband the artist, and Grayson
I teach language arts to sixth graders in Laguna Beach, California. Lynne Cox’s book Grayson was recommended to me as a good read aloud book for my students. Living in a beach community with a view of the ocean from our classroom window, I thought this book about an underwater encounter with a lost baby whale would grab their attention. It really did. Her writing submerges the reader (or listener) into another world. Only a talented author like Lynne could write an entire book about a three-hour incident during a morning swim workout. She vividly crafts her descriptions of the ocean and sea creatures enabling us to feel like we were with her on a mission to unite Grayson the whale with his mother. The students were held in suspense to find out what would happen next.
After we finished reading the book, the students chose culminating projects from a variety of activities. They came up with some amazing ideas such as making models of underwater scenes, drawing life-sized illustrations of Grayson, and presenting digitized reports about whales. The students and I then wrote letters to Lynne about our favorite parts of the book and asked questions about her experience. You can imagine the students’ excitement when they each received a response from the author.
Lynne and I struck up an email friendship and eventually met for lunch in Laguna Beach. As we sat down, I was so elated and nervous to meet the famous author that I accidently spilled a glass of water on her shirt. In her quick-witted manner she replied, “ That’s ok. I know how to swim!” We then drove to Heisler Park. My husband Jon Seeman, an artist, was recently commissioned by the city to create a sixteen-foot metal sculpture of a breeching whale. He aptly named it Grayson in honor of Lynne Cox and the baby whale she saved one morning while swimming at the beach. Lynne couldn’t contain herself from posing with Grayson the whale!
Lynne with Grayson