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A Swell Time Was Had by All : Bookstore’s Summer Program Helps Get Kids Interested in the Sea

Times Staff Writer

Nautical themes came alive for eight children who gathered recently for the first in a series of activities designed to spark the young’s interest in the sea.

Working in the loft of the Seabreeze Limited bookstore on Shelter Island, the children carefully colored squares representing signal flags to decipher a hidden message, and, in the process, learned how ships communicated with each other before radio.

They also heard about Amy, the carpenter’s cat who, until 1986, lived aboard the historic Star of India moored in San Diego Bay. And they listened as Barbara Sharp, creator of the San Diego Maritime Museum’s Star of India coloring book, described the grand sailing ship and related some of its stories to the attentive group.

The unusual program at the bookstore, 1254 Scott St., continues this month and next and will include storytelling, knot-tying classes, an exhibit of ships in bottles and a presentation by a French artist.

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Sessions in the free program, titled “Children and the Sea,” are held weekly, and participants are divided into age groups. Children 3 to 5 years old attend less complex sessions Friday mornings, and the older children take part in the more advanced presentations.

Suzanne Pew, owner of Seabreeze Limited, sponsored a similar reading program last year without the Maritime Museum’s involvement. Although that program was hailed as a success, she decided to contact the museum this year to add speakers and other activities.

Pew, for whom sailing has been a lifelong activity, wanted to use books to introduce children to the sea and sea life.

“Children get reading as education at school, so I chose summer to introduce books as something to do for pleasure,” she said.

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She said children who attend the first session are usually so fascinated by what they discover that they return for the rest of the summer program.

In August, the program will be co-sponsored by Scripps Aquarium and will feature presentations on animal life of the waterfront.

The sessions average about 12 children each, and reservations are required, Pew said.

Sharp, whose husband, Robert, is a trustee for the museum, believes that the talks and activities will give the children a sense of San Diego’s history, and she hopes they will then visit museums such as the Maritime.

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“Hopefully, it will give them a feeling for what we have on the waterfront,” she said.


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