The Beach


   A beach is found along the shoreline of a body of water. Most often, we think of beaches along an ocean or lake. The land material is often composed of tiny loose rocks known as sand, or larger pebbles and rocks. The waves and currents deposit and transform the sand and sediment, shaping the beach. A beach's shape depends upon how the waves move. Gentle slopes occur when sand is moved away from the beach while steeper beaches are created when waves are not strong enough to move the sand away. A beach ecosystem is complex and diverse, and includes a variety of plants and animals: seashore wildlife includes birds, crustaceans, kelp, starfish, sea grass, dolphins, seals, and much more.

   From the youngest beach-goer (1 2 3 Beach: A Cool Counting Book) to older teens (Moonglass) there is a little something for everyone in this year's beach themed reviews feature. For those who want to explore the natural world at the beach, try reading Life in the Ocean and Ocean and Sea. Fun and goofy stories perfect for light beach reading include Don't Wobble on the Wakeboard! and Hooey Higgins and the Shark. Plenty of picture and chapter books are included, often notable for introducing beach vacation activities. Whether or not your summer plans involve visiting the beach, be sure to escape to those sandy shores through a good book!

For more information about the beach visit:
http://water.epa.gov/learn/kids/beachkids/index.cfm
http://www.pbs.org/oceanrealm

Contributor: Emily Griffin

Reviews

1 2 3 Beach: A Cool Counting Book
Puck

The subtitle uses the word cool which may be a comment on its value or its content. Since the book focuses on the beach where it is usually hot, then cool must refer to its value. And it actually is a cool or good book. While wordless, the big bold numbers accentuate the lesson-counting. The items are all related to a day at the beach. It starts with one big beach umbrella and then offers the numbers from one to ten which include items such as four sandals, six pails and shovels full of sand, and finally ten crabs. The requisite number of items is on each page or spread. An interesting feature is the closing spread which contains a number of discussion starters relating to each of the pages. There is also a code to scan for free coloring pages as well as an Internet address where more activities can be found. The back cover has another code to scan for other books in the series. Perfect for preparing little ones for a beach outing. 2012, Duo Press, Ages 1 to 3, $7.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780983812111

At the Boardwalk
Kelly Ramsdell Fineman
Illustrated by Mónica Armiño

"At the boardwalk" is the recurrent phrase as rhymes fill in the joys of a day by the sea. Beginning with walks as the sun shines through the fog, kites and bubbles fly, ice cream cones are eaten, arcade games are played, then, "Everyone around complains / At the boardwalk when it rains." As the sun sets and the stars emerge, there is one last ride on the carousel and one last dance before sleepy children and parents head home. The double-page scenes depict the details of the attractions that motivate the beachgoers to ride the Ferris wheel, purchase cotton candy, or simply stroll along the boardwalk with its inviting row of wooden benches. These are naturalistically portrayed contented folks, families with dancing toddlers lined up to ride the sparkling merry-go-round. Armiño portrays the joy of all as they enter into the varied activities. The textured illustrations convey the overall sense of feeling good. 2012, Tiger Tales, Ages 3 to 7, $12.95. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781589251045

Daisy Dawson at the Beach
Steve Voake
Illustrated by Jessica Meserve

Curious, adventurous, imaginative (and having the felicitous ability to communicate with animals), Daisy Dawson is back again. After discovering her gift in the first book of the series--meeting lambs in the winter snow and otters in a pond in later ones--Daisy heads off to the beach for a summer holiday. Eager to swim and surf, Daisy explores the seashore and meets some new friends: Rabsy and Raberta, ditsy baby rabbits who add humor with their naïveté, nasty seagulls who think only of food and, when he pinches her toe, a hip crab who loves to dance. Danger threatens (mildly) when Daisy has to rescue Rabsy from the waves and more urgently when she discovers--hearing its plea for help--a young dolphin trapped undersea in a net. Daisy and her new friends rise to the occasion in a satisfying climax ending with a blissful ride on the dolphin's back. Voake, as usual, gives each animal its special character, while incorporating the environment--here by letting young readers experience sun, shore, and waves, as well as the thrills of surfing and skimming the sea. Though Meserve's pencil and ink drawings spilling over the pages make the layout attractive and lead the reader on, their dark, thick strokes sometimes seem too heavy for the lightness of the text (the crabs, for example, are much more appealing in color on the cover). Short, easy to read, adventurous without being threatening, the Daisy books will attract an audience of readers who can enjoy a book on their own or listeners who find the happy, self-motivated little girl having magical encounters to envy. Part of the "Daisy Dawson" series. 2011, Candlewick, Ages 4 to 8, $14.99. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780763653064

Don't Wobble on the Wakeboard!
Chris Kreie
Illustrated by Jorge Santillan

Josh and Kenzie are excited to start honing their beach sports skills this summer at Playa Victoria and the excitement is amplified when they learn their school, Victory School for sports all-stars, will be competing a with students from the Champions School in a tournament for the Playa Victoria Cup. However, their enthusiasm is dampened when they learn they must compete in a sport they have never tried before. They both decide to try wakeboarding and after Kenzie takes her turn at what turns out to be much more difficult than anticipated it's time for Josh to try. Josh turns out to be a natural wakeboarder but not nearly as good as Hannah, the competition from Champions School. Hannah's skill seems too much to believe she's never tried the sport until the pair finds out she's used to snowboarding. After a close competition Josh pulls off a difficult move to win the cup for his team. The plot is predictable but fun. The fast pace, short chapters, and colorful Manga style illustrations in the "Victory School Superstars" books by Sports Illustrated Kids will attract reluctant readers and the glossary in the back helps with vocabulary. There is even information on the sport of wakeboarding at the back for readers who would like to learn more. 2012, Stone Arch Books/Capstone, Ages 7 to 10, $9.00. Reviewer: Miranda McClain (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781434233967

Going To the Beach
Jo S. Kittinger
Illustrated by Shari Warren

A light brown-skinned family of five goes to the beach and has a great time. Short phrases tell the troop to "Grab your goggles./Pack your pail./We're going to the beach." There, they fish and splash, dive and float, make a castle, shake out sand, and have a hug before heading home. Warren's cheerful cartoon illustrations match the rhyming text and give the reader support if any of the thirty-five words need some explanation. The pictures provide good support for figuring out the words and it is a treat to see such a jaunty dad depicted with a mustache and goatee. The blurb at the end of the story introduces the author and illustrator and this is followed by several activities to reinforce the lessons for letter recognition, story order, and naming numbers. First there is a rebus rhyme, a counting exercise, a hunt and find game, recognizing letters, and putting pictures of a story in the proper order. This "Rookie Ready to Learn-Seasons and Weather" series supports the emergent or beginning reader. 2012 (orig. 2002), Children's Press/Scholastic, Ages 3 to 6, $22.00. Reviewers: Susan Hepler and Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780531268018

Honey Bear's Blue Bathing Suit
Todd H. Doodler

It is almost Honey Bear's birthday and she has decided to invite her friends to a beach party. Her invitation advises the guests to bring their bathing suits and prepare to get wet. Off they rush to the mall to buy new bathing suits and upon meeting decide to pool their resources to buy Honey Bear's birthday presents. The big day finally arrives and it is a lot of fun playing beach volleyball, collecting shells, and enjoying lunch and a delicious birthday cake. (A quibble here-lunch is not particularly healthy-hamburgers, hot dogs and fries-no a vegetable or fruit in sight.) Honey Bear opens her presents and one of them is the blue bathing suit pictured on the cover. It is a pedestrian story with illustrations that appear to be computer generated and have some resemblance to the named creatures. The big attraction may be the cover with its silky blue bathing suit that kids can run their fingers over. 2012, Blue Apple Books, Ages 1 to 4, $12.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781609052034

Hooey Higgins and the Shark
Steve Voake
Illustrated by Emma Dodson

It is droll British humor and young readers should really enjoy Hooey Higgins and his multigenerational family and friends. Hooey (the source of his name is revealed about half way through the book) and his friend Twig lust after a big chocolate egg in Mr. Danson's shop window. The price is astronomical as far as the boys' means are concerned so they dream up ways to make money. Rumor has it that there is a shark in near the beach and they want to capture it and charge admission to see it. Their efforts are quite amusing. While trying to capture the shark they sport what appears to be a huge sea urchin and decide that this could be a moneymaker too. Hooey is aided in his exploits by his older brother Will and we also meet his nemesis Bazzer and his best friend Twig's heartthrob Samantha. The plot gets more complicated and convoluted and the story ends with a bang. All the loose ends are tied up and it may be that the shark has the last laugh. The illustrations are as amusing as the text and they have a cartoon look. Readers will appreciate that they are liberally sprinkled through the book which will make it even more appealing to younger readers and those who may not be reading on grade level. Let's hope that there will be more adventures with Hooey, because this first story is really amusing. 2012 (orig. 2010), Candlewick Press, Ages 5 to 7, $14.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780763657826

I Spy Under the Sea
Edward Gibbs

Peep into the porthole and discover what lives under the sea. A companion to Gibbs's I Spy with My Little Eye, this new book has an ocean theme features seven marine animals for readers to guess and count. Each spread begins with the phrase "I spy with my little eye..." and shows a partial view of an animal found in the sea. Next, another partial view, again through a porthole, is accompanied by a hint such as "I have a funny name." Turn the page to discover "we're clownfish." In the top corner is the number of the animal found of the page: "7 seven clownfish." The countdown from seven brings seahorses, crabs, swordfish, octopuses, dolphins, and one shark (who spies something of his own). Lively, but simple, illustrations make counting down and figuring out what animal is next enjoyable. Reinforced binding and thick paper make this a sturdy picture book for the toddler and prek set. 2012, Templar/Candlewick Press, Ages 2 to 5, $14.99. Reviewer: Emily Griffin (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780763659523

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Sylvia Earle
Claire A. Nivola

How important are the oceans of our planet to sustaining life? According to the introduction "Living organisms in the sea release the oxygen we breathe in, and take up the carbon dioxide we breathe out." Plants do the same work as the ocean. Sylvia Earle is an expert who has spent thousands of hours under water and many thousand more above to understand the oceans and the creatures that live in it. She was always interested in nature, but it was not until she moved to Florida and lived near the Gulf of Mexico that she became enamored with the oceans. With her swim goggles she could study the vast array of animals and plants in the nearby waters. As she grew up she learned to scuba dive, joined expeditions, lived in a deep-sea laboratory, walked on the ocean bed in an aqua suit and descended even further in a variety of submersibles. Sylvia shared her discoveries and adventures and introduced people to the beauty of whales--both their elegant swimming and their intriguing songs. Some of the fish she studied exhibited human characteristics such as returning to the same bed to rest at night. Her ventures into the deepest oceans revealed that even at 1,600 feet down there was still light and amazing bioluminescent creatures. The illustrations of these creatures and another of the vast blue water with specs of light make one think of the night sky. It is ironic that we know more about the planets than we do about our own oceans which are so vital to our survival. The message comes through in a closing note from the author and if you read it carefully you will know that it is a call to action on the part of people to stop polluting our oceans. This picture book would work well in ESOL programs or for students who are not reading on grade level. 2012, Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan, Ages 7 up, $17.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780374380687

Monkey With a Tool Belt and the Seaside Shenanigans
Chris Monroe

In this third entry in this goofy series, Chico Bon Bon, the monkey with the tool belt, exhibits his mechanical prowess, first, by fixing a broken water sprinkler and, then, displaying each of his tools. These tools include recognizable items such as washers and also kid-hilarious ones like wackadoodle and purple stuff. The tools come in handy when Chico learns from his elephant friend Clark that things at Clark's uncle's beach resort are breaking. The good news is that the surfing near the resort is "sweet." Traveling to the resort, Chico fixes a rickshaw's tire with gum and rescues a frog's bike with balloons. Touring the wreckage at the resort with Clark, Chico finds a cabana with a hole in its roof and coconuts and popcorn on the floor and fixes the hole with palm leaves. Next, he finds a sailboat littered with breadcrumbs that is so scuffed it leaks; he fixes this, too. On he goes until, in the pump room of the broken water slide, he finds, logically, a green duck tap-dancing on the pump handle. Putting together the weird clues, Chico, the mystery-solving repairman, realizes that the duck has, inadvertently, caused all the breakage. At last, Chico and Clark can surf! Bright watercolors and ink splash across these ridiculous pages. 2011, Carolrhoda Books/Lerner, Ages 4 to 8, $16.95. Reviewer: Cynthia Levinson (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780761356165

Moonglass
Jessi Kirby

The beach is Anna's natural habitat, but she's not thrilled when her father's new job means moving south to an oceanside national park in Orange County. It's not just the disruption and the sudden immersion in a moneyed crowd at her new high school, it's the fact that they're leaving behind the place where Anna remembers her mother, who drowned when Anna was only seven. Her new home, though, is mere feet from the beach cottage where her mother grew up and met her father, so she's faced more than ever with questions about her mother. Kirby makes the most of her seashore setting, filling her story with the crash of waves, the whisper of old secrets, the promising presence of hot young lifeguards (and a moonlit romance with one of them for Anna), and the sparkle of seaglass, which Anna used to collect with her mother along the beach. Anna herself is a believably complicated character, a beach native who revels in the effect of her bikini on the lifeguards but who is also a serious long-distance runner and tough competitor; secondary characters are similarly rich, especially pampered princess Ashley, Anna's first new friend, who's generous, supportive, and utterly blind to her own tactlessness. The undercurrents of disturbance about Anna's mother and her uneasy history are navigated with both sympathy and a certain amount of taut suspense, allowing readers to enjoy the moody atmosphere and complex emotions while also understanding Anna's pain. This will be a rewarding outing for readers who were moved by Valerie Hobbs' Tender (BCCB 10/01), another waterborne story about a daughter-father family, or those just looking for a beachy summer romance with some real weight behind it. 2011, Simon/Simon & Schuster, Grades 7 to 10, $16.99. Reviewer: Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June 2011 (Vol. 64, No. 10)).
ISBN: 9781442416949

Ocean and Sea
Steve Parker

With its all-inclusive title, this heavy book, part of Scholastic's "Discover More" series, invites the reader to "dive into Earth's most spectacular habitat." What a colorful collection of information! With this in mind, the book offers a sort of road map for getting the most out of it. The book is divided into chapters such as "All about Oceans." Each chapter is divided into a number of stand-alone two-page spreads about a specific topic. These spreads may include a subject headline (title, or what it's about), introduction, "Fact Boxes" that list bits of quick information, " Fascinating Facts" in big, bold print that presents an "amazing fact or quote" plus "More Here" columns that list books to read, places and websites to visit, as well as things to do and not do. Aside from print, each page spread includes breath-taking photo illustration. So whether a young reader may dive into one page or subject, or study a whole chapter, that dive will produce a wealth of information. Parker writes about subjects as complicated as waves, currents and tides and, at the same time, does a fine job of explaining just what a grain of sand might be made of. The book tackles subjects like food webs with a colorful chart, combines maps, photos and colored lines to explain ocean exploration, or present whale "stats" using a collection of pictures-two school busses to show how big a blue whale might be, twenty-four tiny elephant outlines to show how heavy, or a common word, grapefruit, to tell how big a blue's eye might be. Sometimes a page spread uses one large photo, that of a green sea turtle for example, along with a fact box and "More Here" column to tell it all. The book covers a plethora of sea-related subjects like life on shore, famous ocean explorers, deep sea life, submersibles, ancient seas, legends, pirates, ocean life, shipwrecks, Tsunamis and so on. If that weren't enough, the book includes directions for downloading a free digital book, Shark Spotter. It includes an extensive glossary and inex. The lists of photo and art credits, consultants and editors are phenomenal. 2012, Scholastic, Ages 8 up, $19.95. Reviewer: Judy Crowder (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780545330220

The Paradise Trap
Catherine Jinks

Marcus' mom is intent on reliving the magic of her childhood vacations at the ocean, which is why Marcus has been dragged away from his beloved video games to accompany her in a beat-up old trailer to Diamond Beach. The beach turns out to be anything but summery fun-in fact, it is more cement than sand-but when Marcus and his new friend Edison stumble upon an old door in the trailer that inexplicably leads to a cellar, Marcus goes from being bored to being spooked. The cellar leads to a giant amusement park that enchants Edison but tries to kill Marcus (first by suffocation by teddy bear and then by a killer ferris wheel); although Marcus manages to escape, Edison is not so lucky. As Marcus repeatedly tries to return with reinforcements to rescue Edison, the scene behind the door changes each time to represent someone's ideal vacation while containing their doom: Edison's mother sees a luxurious spa, for instance, but its purring cats are murderous. There's a bit of Twilight Zone-like trickery going on here: just when Marcus and his mom think they are safe, the rug is pulled out again and they find themselves in yet another paradise gone awry. The settings are often both hilariously absurd (the spa cats are both giant and pink) and frightening (they also have very, very sharp claws). The motivation of the villain, a siren who must now lure tourists with ideal vacations after losing her voice, is a bit of stretch, but the snappy pace more than makes up for the somewhat lackluster antagonist as Marcus and his makeshift family battle maniacal clowns, epic tidal waves, and camping vampires. In a refreshing change from the horror genre's typical early dismissal of parental units, Marcus' mom is in on the adventure the whole time to offer support and guidance, making this a spirited and family-friendly tale. 2012, Egmont, Grades 4 to 7, $16.99. Reviewer: Kate Quealy-Gainer (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April 2012 (Vol. 65, No. 8)).
ISBN: 9781606842737

Seashore Life
Jinny Johnson

When the ocean water meets land is where the seashore begins. Along this water the tides come in and go out controlled by the moon, and it also houses a variety of wild life including birds, crustaceans, fish, seals and snails to name a few. Some of these creatures live in the water sandy beach while others exist in the shallow waters with the barnacles and anemones. Unfortunately the humans continue to pollute these seashores with oil spills and trash that make these habitats unlivable and even deadly for creatures. The broken up colorful written segments make the book easier to read and more appealing to all readers while the extraordinary photos give off a 3D effect as they focus on the amazing wildlife. The bold-faced vocabulary words have a simple definition in the back with the glossary and index while the content page shows a quick way to get to each section. This book is part of the "Watery Worlds" series. 2011, Black Rabbit Books, Ages 9 up, $27.10. Reviewer: Julia Beiker (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781599205014

Updated 6/1/12

To stay up to date on new books on this topic, consider subscribing to The Children's Literature Comprehensive Database. For your free trial, click here.
If you're interested in reviewing children's and young adult books, then send a resume and writing sample to marilyn@childrenslit.com.