Heading to the beach? Vacationing seaside?
After a long day of sun, surf, and sand, capture your kids’ fancy with one of these peachy, beach-y reads.
Even if you’re landlocked this season, you can feel the velvet ocean breeze, hear the gulls cry, and taste that salty film on your lips in today’s lovely, ocean-y stories.
Hello Lighthouse, written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall
published in 2018 by Little, Brown and Company
In what surely must be one of the most exquisitely-illustrated books of the year, Sophie Blackall ferries us to a rocky outcropping off the north Atlantic coast, to the whalebone-white lighthouse standing tall, keeping watch, and introduces us to the charming family of lighthouse keepers living there in the first half of the 20th century.
We learn from Blackall’s text, and more significantly from her lengthy afterword, the ins and outs of a lighthouse keeper’s duties. Far more than that, however, Blackall’s illustrations immerse us in the atmosphere of quiet isolation, the steadiness of routine, the roil of crashing waves and eerie hush of blanketing fog.
We joyfully enter into this tiny family’s life, encircled by ocean and love, committed to one another and the sailors they protect.
Stunning in hue, in tender line, in brilliant composition work, everything about this story is pristine. I cannot use enough superlatives for this little gem. A treat for ages 4 through adult.
Saffron Ice Cream, written and illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh
published in 2018 by Arthur A. Levine Books
I absolutely love this vibrant story of a young, Persian immigrant and her first trip to a beach…in America.
Back in Iran, Rashin and her family would holiday along the Caspian Sea. They’d drive for hours through the countryside, stopping along the way for a picnic of savory kebabs. Then, at the beach, they’d divide up: Rashin’s father and brother stayed amongst the men on one side of a stretch of curtains, while she, her mother, and her best friend enjoyed themselves amongst the women on the other side.
Rashin especially loved visiting the ice cream wagon, slurping delicious saffron ice cream beside the sparkling blue sea.
What’s the same and what’s different about heading to Coney Island for this newly-American family? Find out in this vivid, funny, warmhearted story. Pages saturated in summery, sidewalk-chalk colors burst with joy. A great cultural bridge for us all, ages 3 and up.
The Sandcastle that Lola Built, written by Megan Maynor, illustrated by Kate Berube
published in 2018 by Alfred A. Knopf
This sandcastle-building episode begins in an accumulating fashion like Jack’s house, but unlike Jack, Lola is building her structure in a zone fraught with minor disasters!
A frisbee fellow’s feet, bulldozing toddlers, renegade waves all batter Lola’s sandy towers and glinting mermaid beacons. It’s enough to make a girl give up.
All is not lost, however, because each temporary setback brings another friend to Lola’s sandcastle-building crew. Together, they’re unbeatable!
Clever riffs on an old theme and jolly, sun-baked illustrations make this a winner for ages 2 and up. And P.S. Megan Maynor is a Minnesota girl who introduces another little Minnesota gal into this story 🙂 Woohoo!
Grains of Sand, written and illustrated by Sibylle Delacroix, translated by Karen Li
originally published in France in 2017; English edition 2018 by Owlkids Books
Coming home from the beach is a blue time for many of us, as is the case for this little gal and her brother.
Pouring sand out from her beach sandals, however, sets the two of them to daydreaming. What would happen if you planted grains of sand? Might they grow into a fine crop of beach umbrellas? Lemon ice cream? Sandcastles, even?
Imaginative, nostalgic, sunny, lovely. For ages 2 and up.
Stories in a Seashell, written by Alex Nogués Otero, illustrated by Silvia Cabestany
originally published in Spain in 2016; English edition by StarBerry Books, 2018
Listening to the sound in a seashell is a rite of passage for children across the globe. When one boy holds a pink-and-gold conch up to his ear, however, he hears much more than that whispering rush of waves the rest of us do. He hears a whole story…
… of pirate ships and marooned sailors, of mermaids and puffins and poets, of bounding whales and ethereal jellyfish and lurking submarines.
A quiet, imaginative treasure for ages 4 and up.
10 Reasons to Love a Whale, written by Catherine Barr, illustrated by Hanako Clulow
published in 2018 by Quarto Publishing
Since you’re at the beach, this will be a great time to learn a few choice, fascinating tidbits about blue whales.
The “10 Reasons” titles are mighty strong books, with pared-down text that never belabors, just teases us with interesting facts, and clear, appealing, informative illustration work.
You can love a blue whale because of its ginormous size, its yellow belly, its fountaining spray…and seven other cool reasons. Great brain fodder for kids ages 2 and up.
I’ll be back later this week with a super-sweet, seaside chapter book for ages 7-10 so come on back!
Meanwhile, here are links to lots more prime beach-y books I’ve reviewed in the past — picture books, chapter books, and fiction for a wide age span.