Sandcastle, by Philip Bunting

‘Don’t worry,’ says Grandad.
‘The sandcastle is still here;
you just can’t see it.’

Rae wants to build a magnificent sandacste, and when Grandad offers to help they do indeed build a very fine castle. But when the tide starts to come in, Rae watches as, bit by bit, the magnificent castle is washed away. Grandad, though, explains that the castle isn’t really gone, because everything that made it is still there.

Sandcastle is a beuatiful exploration of the ebb and flow of life, and of the gentle bond between grandparent and grandchild. Whil Grandad’s wisdom is deep, so too is Rae’s willingness to accept that wisdom.

The deceptively simple illustrations use sandy tones as well as blues with embellishments of red and yellow. The focus is squarely on Rae and Grandad as they enjoy time together, seemingly the only two at the beach – with the exception of a gorgeous orange crab. Another lovely touch is the absence of any gendered pronouns for Rae, something which is difficult to achieve but doesn’t seem forced in this text.

A beautiful book.

Sandcastle, by Philip Bunting
Allen & Unwin, 2018
ISBN 9781760634438

Rock Pool Secrets, by Narelle Oliver

Down on the rocky shore,
waves crash and smash.
Then the tide goes out and the sea is calm.
It’s a good time to explore rock pools.

At first glance, there isn’t much to see in a rock pool, but a closer look reveals lots of interesting creatures, from anemones, to crabs, shrimp, tiny fish and more.

Rock Pool Secrets is a divine non-fiction picturebook, taking youngsters inside the secrets of a beach side rock pool. the text is informative, but also beautifully crafted, enticing readers to keep exploring. the use of large flaps on most spreads is similarly enticing, with left sized text hinting and encouraging readers to look closely at the outside of the flap before opening it to see what new creature is there.

One of the last picture books created by the late Narelle Oliver, Rock Pool Secrets was crafted from beautiful lino cut and watercolour illustrations, with beauty and detail which offer much to explore.


Rock Pool Secrets , by Narelle Oliver
Walker Books, 2017
ISBN 9781922179357

The Grand Genius Summer of Henry Hoobler, by Lisa Shanahan

It struck Henry that perhaps he was waiting for the exact right moment to be daring and brave. The exact right moment where he felt no worry at all, not one tiny flicker. But what if that moment never came?

Henry Hoobler and his family are off on holiday – but Henry would rather stay home with his Nonna. There are lots of scray things about a camping holiday at the beach – sharks, spiders, snakes and blue-ringed octopi. But the thing he is most afraid is the new bike he got for Christmas, which is strapped to the trailer. Everybody wants him to ride it – but Henry is scared he’ll fall off.

The Grand Genius Summer of Henry Hoobler is a feel-good story about what it the meaning of bravery, friendship and family. As Henry tries to summon the courage to get on his bike, he navigates a new friendship with Cassie, who lives in the holiday park, and conquers other fears, including helping his little sister find a lost pony in the middle of the night. He also observes those around him learning new things and taking on challenges of their own.

With laughter, moments of poignancy, and lots of feel-good moments, The Grand Genius Summer of Henry Hoobler is a treat.

The Grand Genius Summer of Henry Hoobler, by Lisa Shanahan
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 9781760293017

Echidna Jim Went for a Swim, by Phil Cummings & Laura Wood

The animals floated on the waves.
They were having a wonderful time.
Echidna Jim went for a swim.

It’s a very hot day, but the animals don’t mind. Dingo has fixed the old blue bus that used to sit in the creek – and he’s taking everyone to the beach for a swim. At the beach everyone blows up their inflatable toys and swim rings, and has a lot of fun – until Echidna Jim joins in. His spikes wreak havoc, popping the inflatables – which could be a disaster, but instead, adds to the fun as the animals whoosh around.

Echidna Jim Went for a Swim is a humorous picture book story featuring lots of favourite Australian animals, including the echidna, the wombat, a platypus, an emu, a kangaroo and more, as well as all the fun of a bus ride and a trip to the beach. With lots of golden sand and watery aquas and blues, as well as the colourful inflatables and the browns and greys of the animals themselves, the illustrations fill the pages with movement and fun.

Echidna Jim Went for a Swim, by Phil Cummings & Laura Wood
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760152994

Nellie Belle, by Mem Fox & Mike Austin

Is it fun in the yard,
Nellie Belle, Nellie Belle?
Is it fun in the yard,
Nellie Belle?

Nellie Belle is a an adorable brown and tan dog who is off on an adventure – digging holes in yard (and escaping), exploring the street, the beach and, finally, the park – before getting spooked by the dark and hurrying home to her safe warm bed.
With a rhythm and repetition reminiscent of the folk song “Billy Boy”, Nellie Belle is a fast-moving, happy celebration of dogs and adventure. The illustrations, rendered digitally, have textures reminiscent of children’s paint sets and of marble, collaged into delightful scenes. The joyful expressions of the animal characters is especially appealing.
Suitable for reading aloud to the very young, the repetition will encourage youngsters to join in.
Nellie Belle, by Mem Fox & Mike Austin
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781760274108

Thunderstorm Dancing, by Katrina Germein & Judy Watson

9781743314593.jpgDaddy is the wind
whizzing and blowing
howling and growing
making trees whoosh!
making seas swoosh!

A day at the beach is interrupted by an approaching thunderstorm, and the family rushes home to shelter as the win blows, the rain falls and thunder rumbles. Most of the family dance their way through the storm – echoing what is happening outside – but the viewpoint character, a little girl, is very unsure. While every other family member dances and acts a different part of the storm – rain, wind, thunder, lightning – she waits till the storm has passed to play her own shining role.

Thunderstorm Dancing is an energetic picture book about thunderstorms, dancing and families. The text makes good use of poetic techniques including onomatopoeia, assonance and rhyme, so that the reader can hear the storm raging and the frenetic movement of the family. The illustrations use a variety of techniques including black ink, pencil and washes to similarly bring to life the movement of the storm as well as the contrast between light and dark. The end papers, with seagulls soaring in the storm inside the front cover and resting on the beach in the back, are a gorgeous touch.

Thunderstorm Dancing is an excellent read-aloud offering.

Thunderstorm Dancing, by Katrina Germein & Judy Watson
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781743314593

Available from good bookstores and online.

Seadog, by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Tom Jellett

Our dog is not a trick dog,
a sit-still-then-roll-over dog.
Our dog is a seadog,
a jump-and-chase-the=waves dog.

Seadog is not well-trained, well groomed, trip-performing dog. Instead he is a fun lvng puppy who loves the sea and everything about it: the sounds, the sights and even – perhaps especially – the smells. And it is the smells that get him in trouble, because after he rolls in smelly fish he has to be taken home and washed. Seadog does not like the suds and water of a bath but he endures it, and is soon clean and fluffy – but only until someone opens the door.

Seadog is a delightful romp of a tale about a dog who loves the sea. In turn he is loved by his family and will be loved by young readers. The text is rhythmic and uses repetition, alliteration and internal rhymes to create something fun to read and to listen to. Kids will love joining in, especially on repeat readings, which will be in demand. Illustrations, by Tom Jellett, are a delight, and the big red Seadog comes to life against sandy yellows and watery blues which really capture the feel of the beach.

Perfect for early childhood, this is a book which warms the heart with its zest for life.


Seadog, by Claire Saxby and Tom Jellett
Random House, 2013
ISBN 9781742756509

Available from good bookstores and online.

Sheep on a Beach, by P. Crumble & Danielle McDonald

Sheep on a beach.
Umbrella up, towel underneath.

It’s a hot summer’s day and Sheep suddenly finds himself on the beach. Luckily, with a little help from a friendly crab he soon has an umbrella, a towel, even an esky full of cold treats. Is thsi really happening, or is Sheep still the paddock dreaming about the beach?

Sheep on a Beach is a funny, simple celebration of the beach, using cumulative text to tell of Sheep’s adventures on the beach. Because it is cumulative, even very young children will be able to join in, soon recognising the pattern.

The bright digital illustrations are full of fun and details which youngsters will enjoy exploring, The crab is a key character, though he isn’t mentioned in the text and his role seems initially incidental.

Perfect for summertime reading Sheep on a Beach is packed full of giggles.

Sheep on a Beach

Sheep on a Beach, by P. Crumble & Danielle McDonald
Scholastic, 2012
ISBN 9781742833217

Available from good bookstores pr online.

At the Beach, by Roland Harvey

Dear Grandma, Crabby Spit is COOL!
We have the best camping spot near the toilets and the beach and the river. Mum has agreed to stop embarrassing us and only wear her new hat in the tent if we do all the cooking for the whole holiday.

When Penny, Henry and Frankie go to Crabby Spit with their parents for a holiday, Grandma stays home. But she doesn’t miss out, because the children write her a postcard every day, telling her about all the fun and excitement of their holiday.

At the Beach tells the story of this holiday through these postcards, a format which young readers will love. The intricate illustrations of Roland Harvey will also intrigue and delight.

Harvey uses dip pen and watercolour to blend cartoon elements with the landscapes of the beach, caravan park and townsite of Crabby Spit. He also adds an extra dimension by ‘losing’ his own holiday gear throughout the pages of the book – and challenging readers to find them.

This hard cover offering is suitable for readers up to the age of about eight years and would also be a useful tool in the language and creative writing classroom.

At the Beach: Postcards from Crabby Spit, by Roland Harvey
Allen & Unwin, 2004

On Our Way to the Beach, by Sofie Laguna & Andrew McLean

I have never seen the beach before.
“What does it look like?” I keep asking.
“It’s wet,” says Mum.
“And sandy,” says Uncle Daniel.
“And sometimes it’s wavy,” says Dad.

Trying to imagine what the beach is like without having ever seen it is hard for a young child. But this little girl has plenty of delightful experiences on the trip to the beach which influence what she imagines the beach will look like.

This is much less a book about the beach than it is about travelling and dreaming. The adults in the story ensure that the trip to the beach – over several days – is full of experiences and special moments. Together the family picks strawberries, buys treasures in an op shop, presents family concerts and just revels in the delight of ‘being’. Each new day of experiences influences how the child imagines the beach will be when they finally arrive, although nothing prepares her for what she eventually sees when they do arrive.

On Our Way to the Beach is a delightfully crafted book, with both the story and the illustrations full of whimsy. It is a peaceful bedtime story and an excellent classrom sharing book, especially for chidlren in inland parts of Australia who will relate to the expectation and excitement about a trip to the beach.

On Our Way to the Beach, by Sofie Laguna and Andrew McLean
Scholastic, 2004