I promise these are my last summery, beachy books for a while. I really can’t wait to jump into a bunch of new finds and especially fall books! But these three deserve some love, especially as two are brand-new this year. Join me in reading a few more books about adventures at the beach. Let’s read three more sea books!
1. Barney’s Sand Castle by Stephanie Calmenson, illustrated by Sheila Beckett, 1983
First up is this old, Little Golden Book. It is one of few books that my husband loved and saved from childhood and it has continued to receive love around here too. It is short, and yet extremely charming. Barney is totally believable as a kid and his simple imagination in creating a sand castle and using found objects to decorate it is captivating for kids. It is a great spark for creativity, but also an introduction to beach activity for newbie beach-goers.
Also, very much worth noting is the illustrator Sheila Beckett. I’m fairly certain that she is the illustrator more commonly known as Sheilah Beckett, but for some reason that I cannot find, the “h” is left off for this book. Please correct me if I am wrong. Sheilah Beckett, however, was an amazing illustrator with a crazy amount of work under her name. You’ll be fascinated by her pieces, I guarantee. Be sure to check out the facebook page for fans that I’ve linked to with her name, and also this Pinterest page, and this great interview with her from 2010 when she was still working like crazy at 97! I love rabbit holes that I tumble down when researching books!
2. Sea Rex by Molly Idle, 2015
Recently debuting this year is another in the beloved series by the fabulous Molly Idle about a Tyrannosaurus Rex in all sorts of fun and humorous situations. A few years ago I fell in love with Tea Rex and swiftly added it to my own library. Somehow I still have not gotten my hands on Camp Rex from last year, but I will try to rectify that issue soon.
But here, in our sea book frenzy, it is only fitting to love on Sea Rex. I completely adore how Idle writes and illustrates these books. The text, if read alone, is pretty straight forward about proper ways to do a beach visit. But then you add in the breathtaking illustrations and you get a completely different take on the text that makes you snicker, giggle, and full out guffaw. While I think dinosaurs are often overdone in children’s literature, Molly Idle has a hilarious spin on the whole concept of dinosaurs that make these books highly entertaining. And if nothing else, stalk Molly Idle’s work to drool and weep over the gorgeous illustrations she is able to create.
3. Seashore by Alain Grée, 2015
This book completely fascinates me and thankfully, my daughter. I picked it up earlier this summer at the Strand and was ecstatic at my discovery. Thinking it was a newer illustrator who seemed to be a fantastic byproduct of mid-century illustration like the Provensens and J.P. Miller, I am completely shocked while doing my research. Turns out that Alain Grée is actually an old illustrator who no longer does work, but was an amazing creator in France up through the 60s and 70s. How did I miss this? Thankfully, Button Books is in the process of reissuing all of his books, with his collaboration it seems as well. I am chomping at the bit to collect them all! (And no, I don’t know why the version I found is called Seashore and they have it listed as Seaside. I’m still trying to figure that mystery out!)
The illustrations are just incredibly worth poring over. They are charming, detailed, and intriguing. They have a very timeless feel even though they bring to mind the Provensen-era of illustration. And Grée definitely has a European feel to his work that adds another layer as well.
The books coming out from Grée’s work are a mixture of board book and long picture book, and are mostly informational, non-fiction, and word books. Seashore is a large, long picture book. It is packed full of information from what to pack for your beach trip, what kinds of things you’ll see in and out of the water, and interesting facts too. It is a commitment to read, but I also think these type of books are a great pathway between typically short, clever picture book stories and full-on, detail-oriented, non-fiction books. The information paired with such delightful illustrations make for a stellar combination.
I will be doing much more research on Grée as I have much to catch up on with his work. I will also be looking more into Sheila(h) Beckett and her broad spectrum of work, while also continuing to swoon over Molly Idle’s work as always. I hope these sea books have peaked your interest in some form, whether you take one more trip to the beach before autumn steps in, or cuddle up with some great beach books year-round. These are all wonderful and will keep the excitement of the seaside alive and delightful. Happy reading on the beach or elsewhere!