Summer is in full swing here and it is hot. So hot, that most people have fled to the beach to take refuge in the cool water, shady umbrellas, and chilled beverages. My August does not hold such plans, so instead I think it appropriate to read about such sea escapees. It’s time for another in the Let’s Read Three series. Join me as we see three beloved characters take to the sea for lovely vacation adventures. Let’s read three sea books!
1. Miffy at the Seaside by Dick Bruna, 1963
I admit I have a deep, collector-loving heart for Miffy and her simple, bold-colored adventures. I love the size of Miffy books. I love the graphic shapes and unafraid colors of the illustrations. I love the straight-forward text. Miffy is a friend to all ages and her afternoon at the beach with her father is my three year old’s ideal time at the beach.
The story begins with Miffy’s father asking if anyone wants to explore the sandy dunes and beach with him. Miffy is delighted, bringing along her bucket to also collect sea shells. The day progresses to Miffy riding in a wagon over the dunes, building a large sand castle, collecting many shells, and taking a quick swim in the sea, before riding back home in the wagon and falling asleep from sweet, seaside exhaustion. It is an excellent arc of a story with just enough perfectly grammatical conversation to keep any reader amused. Miffy is a great companion for every beach excursion.
2. Harry by the Sea by Gene Zion, pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham, 1965
If you don’t know and love Harry the Dirty Dog yet, please stop reading right now and go discover him. Beloved Harry and his family have also taken to the beach and Harry loves the beach except for one thing, the hot sun. When he tries to take refuge under the family umbrella, he is shooed away for there is no more room. He races along looking for more cool shade options including an unfortunate sand castle and a large woman’s shadow, but each time he is scolded for being in the way. Finally, Harry pauses near the ocean and is pummeled by a breaking wave which leaves him completely covered in seaweed. The seaweed is cool and his ears are plugged with water so he continues on his way oblivious to the fact that everyone is now freaking out about the “sea monster” that emerged. What ensues is marvelous fun and you’ll be searching for Harry’s family along with the lovable guy, right up until the end.
One major thing I love about this book is how the action consistently and purposefully pushes you right. Harry is always moving right across the pages, pulling you through the story at a perfect pace. It is a brilliant illustration move. Go to the sea with Harry and have a monstrously, good time!
3. The Bear’s Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud, 2012 (English translation 2014)
I’m so excited to finally have and be able to share the sequel to one of my favorite picture books from 2013. A French import thanks to Chronicle Books, it is another European, bear-styled, Where’s Waldo kind of adventure follow-up to The Bear’s Song. It is a literal sequel, picking up on the first spread with the rooftop where Papa and his Little Bear ended up in the first book. Only now they have awakened from hibernation completely covered in snow. They immediately move indoors to find warmth and settle in among many stuffed bear friends. Papa Bear is snoozing so peacefully, he almost misses his Little Bear being mistaken for a toy and carried off by a little boy. The pursuit begins again and we are taken along a marvelously intense ride searching for Little Bear through the city and all the way to the sea.
Benjamin Chaud has packed this book with characters, details, humor, and challenges. It is a thrill to follow Papa Bear and Little Bear until they are reunited with a sweet song once again, only this time with the Little Bear performing it for his Papa. While I can’t help but wish I could read the original text as I feel the English translation is a little too unemotionally narrative, I dearly love this second book, nearly as much as the first. And now living in the city, the race out to the sea during the dead of winter is not only thrilling, but also completely understandable too!
I hope you have enjoyed our literary sea adventure and are enjoying some beach time yourself, whether in actuality or in the pages of a wonderful book. Happy summer and happy reading!