Tag Archives: imagination

Day 174 – The Seashore Book

Has life got you down? Having trouble finding your happy place? Well, today’s book might just be right up your alley – assuming your happy place is a relaxing stroll along the beach! “The Seashore Book” by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Wendell Minor is a quiet and comforting book about a mother describing a trip to the seashore for her son, who has never been. Filled with vivid, poetic prose and decorated with realistic watercolor renderings of the imaginary journey, “The Seashore Book” is just the kind of book that will have little listeners closing their eyes and drifting off to the seashore themselves.

seashore bookThe little boy in the book has lived in the mountains his whole life. When he asks his mother what the seashore is like, she replies by saying, “Let’s pretend, it is early morning at the seashore and it’s hard to tell where the sea stops and the sky begins.” Interrupted by the occasional question, the little boy’s mother continues to narrate their fictional stroll along the beach in similarly colorful and soothing fashion. She describes for her son how the sea water feels refreshing like peppermint on his skin, how the swish-swashing of the waves lulls him to sleep on the sand, and how the fishing pier is white as a snowfall with hundreds of crying gulls waiting for the fishing boats to come in at sunset. As one review I read online put it: “Zolotow’s words are so descriptive that the paintings seem almost redundant.” I thought that was a particularly apt characterization. The gentle way this book was written also reminded us of the nighttime meditation stories that our oldest used to listen to when she was little. It’s the kind of prose that is tailor made for bedtime.

This is not the first Charlotte Zolotow book we have enjoyed reading this year, and we hope it won’t be the last. We quite enjoyed “I Like to be Little”, as you will know if you’ve been following us. That book also centered on a conversation between mother and child, although the role of storyteller and listener are reversed. Either book is a great choice for read-aloud, but “The Seashore Book” in particular is a great choice for summertime, for reading about the beach, and for winding down and relaxing at bedtime.


Day 133 – Rain

Around these parts it feels as though April showers have carried on…and on…and on. Frankly, I’m surprised our May flowers haven’t floated away by now. How appropriate, then, that today we should be reading “Rain” by Sam Usher – a colorful and wonderfully imaginative storybook that seeks to remind us that the very best things are always worth waiting for!

rainMr Usher’s protagonist is a precocious little red-headed boy, who wakes up one morning to a rainy day. He can’t wait to get outside, but his Grandad says they should stay indoors until the rain ends. “But I LIKE going out in the rain,” our hero pleads. In the rain you can look at things (reflected) upside down, catch raindrops, and splash in puddles. But Grandad is not persuaded, and so they wait.

The little boy reads sea stories, and the rain does not stop. What about a sea voyage with monsters, he suggests. No, better to wait. Sooooo, the little boy reads a book about Venice, and the rain does not stop. How about going out to see the floating city, with acrobats, carnivals, and musical boatmen, he proposes. And granddad, who has finally finished writing a letter, jumps up and says, “Quick…we have to catch the post!”

Time for a voyage at last (and what a voyage it is)! There are upside-down reflections, and chances to catch raindrops in your mouth, and musical boatmen, and sea monsters, and acrobats, and a general riot of activity. Upon returning home from the mailbox and after changing into some dry clothes, the boy and his Grandad sip hot chocolate, and agree: “The very best things are always worth waiting for.”

The message imparted in this book is a classic; so very true, but so very hard to remember in the moment (waiting: a potentially rewarding but infinitely challenging predicament…see here, here, and here for other books we love that have captured this theme). I particularly liked how the author foreshadowed the adventure to come with the little boy’s reading materials, and I loved the scribbly, playful watercolor illustrations, a style that I think adds to the helter-skelter carnival feel of the eventual voyage.

And, the very moment we closed the book, it started raining (again!) at our house…I guess I’ll sit here and wait for MY ship to come in.


Day 112 – This is Sadie

Sadie is a little girl with a big imagination whose days are never long enough for all her adventures, and “This is Sadie” by Sara O’Leary is her story. The book is clever and exuberant, and Ms. O’Leary’s characterization of the imaginative and playful little Sadie (named after her own grandmother) rang true for us. Julie Morstad’s brilliant illustrations are a perfect fit, enhancing the feeling of childlike, carefree joy that Sadie exudes.

For Sadie, a big cardboard box in her room is really a tall ship with which she ventures out on great journeys of exploration. Through the day she pretends to be the Mad Hatter hosting tea, a boy raised by wolves, a mermaid, or a hero in a fairy tale. She climbs trees to chat with birds, uses her wings (because “of course” she has wings) to fly high in the sky before coming back home. Sadie can create amazing things out of all kinds of pedestrian things … boats out of boxes, and castles out of cushions – she’s got that kind of an imagination. More than things, however, she likes stories “because you can make them from nothing at all.”sadie

This is another book that I have been looking forward to reading simply because of the cover – the picture of the little girl with a fox mask just looks too verdant and playful to pass up. (I did think it was interesting – as an aside – that when you pull the dust jacket off, the picture of Sadie on the cover loses her mask). We found a lot to enjoy in this darling book. Our oldest daughter liked the fact that Sadie chooses to be the hero in her fairy tale. I enjoyed the way in which Sadie “cleans” her room by shoving everything under the bed, or acknowledges that “old people need a lot of sleep”…while hammering and listening to records in her room early in the morning. In both cases, actually, the humor is played up because what she is really doing in the picture is not referenced in the text… This goes back to my comment above that Ms. O’Leary’s characterization of an imaginative little girl rings true; it feels as if the words on the page are exactly what Sadie is thinking in that picture. Our consensus favorite scene however, was when Sadie is playing in the pool, spending a “perfect day” with friends…some of whom live on her street and some of whom live in the pages of books.

I am very happy to have this book as part of our collection and look forward to reading it again (and again!). It’s the kind of book that makes me smile, because of the little precocious and creative girl Sadie is in the book, and because of the way in which facets of Sadie’s personality remind me of our own little (and not so little) girls.