Tag Archives: beach

Those Darn Squirrels Fly South


Genius squirrels follow wintering birds to a tropical paradise. Will their grumpy friend Old Man Fookwire be far behind?

Like the first book in this series, Those Darn Squirrels!, it is difficult to read this book once; as soon as it is done, the boys ask me to read it again. Since they are laughing their heads off for much of the book (no matter how many times we read it), I’m happy to comply.

Author: Adam Rubin
Illustrator: Daniel Salmieri


The Sea-Breeze Hotel


Things are not looking good for the owner and employees of the aptly-named Sea-Breeze Hotel:

“It’s too windy to fish and swim,” moaned the children.
“It’s far too breezy for beachcombing,” the parents
“It’s even too blustery to sit on the balcony,” the
grandparents grumbled.
And they all packed their bags and went away.

But then an employee’s grandson makes a kite to cheer up the hotel owner. Once the other employees see what fun she is having with it, they make kites too. And once people begin to notice the kites circling and soaring overhead, they all want to visit the kite-flying hotel and “[n]ot one person complained about the wind.”

Author: Marcia Vaughan
Illustrator: Patricia Mullins



As we’ve discussed before, David Wisener’s work is nearly wordless and always carefully-plotted, mixing the familiar with the very strange. (Although it is very different, it reminds me of Shaun Tan’s excellent, wordless, graphic novel, The Arrival–which I look forward to introducing the boys to when they are bit older.)

Flotsam is the tale of an underwater camera that washes up on a beach with some very unusual pictures waiting to be developed. Among its other virtues, it is the perfect bedtime book for when you’ve lost your voice to a summer cold (assuming you’ve already explained the concept of “film” that needs to be developed during previous readings).

Author: David Wiesner
Illustrator: David Wiesner

The Magic School Bus series


Ms. Frizzle, who may be the coolest teacher ever, has a magic school bus which takes her (sometimes reluctant) class on incredible trips. They travel on the ocean floor; get lost in the solar system; have an electric field trip; explore in the time of the dinosaurs; and go inside the earth, a bee hive, a hurricane, the human body, and the waterworks. Yet they are always back before the end of the school day without anyone knowing of their adventures.

These books are well designed and fun to look at, are packed (packed!) with scientific information, and have fun stories too (with the exception of Lost in the Solar System, which has a truly annoying guest student as a major focus–I avoid that one whenever possible). I expect that, once the boys get older, they will enjoy reading all of the dialogue boxes and side notes that I usually skip in the interest of time. Their favorites are: Inside the Earth, Inside a Bee Hive, Inside a Hurricane, In the Time of the Dinosaurs, and At the Waterworks.

Author: Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Bruce Degen

All Aboard with Jeremy Rabbit


As I’ve mentioned before, searching for the rare Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse led to The Elephant’s Airplane, one of our favorite books to date.  Since its major attraction was its illustrations, I went hunting for all the other books illustrated by Doris Smith that I could find.  All Aboard with Jeremy Rabbit seemed particularly interesting because it was both  authored and illustrated by Ms. Smith and it has turned out to be a greatly enjoyable book in its own right.  We have the United Kingdom version of this long out-of-print book; it was published in the States as The Travels of J.B. Rabbit.

In this book, landlubber Jeremy Rabbit visits his seafaring cousin Waldo Otter for a memorable vacation.  There are trips on a train, car, boat, and hot air balloon.  There are delicious feasts and daring rescues. And, perhaps best of all, there is a sequel.

Author: Doris (Susan) Smith
Illustrator: Doris (Susan) Smith

The Snail and the Whale


This is the tale of a tiny snail
And a great big, gray-blue humpback whale.

Adventure.  Excitement.  A snail “with an itchy foot” craves these things (and finds them) along with a (very large) kindred spirit.  This book is a spellbinder and an absolute pleasure to read aloud.

Author:  Julia Donaldson
Illustrator: Axel Scheffler

Zoom at Sea


Zoom (a cat who loves water) finds an address and a map left by his uncle (who has gone off adventuring) labeled “The Sea and how to get there.”  But following the map does not help Zoom find what he expected–at least not at first.  This is a deeply imaginative book that intrigues the boys–it reminds me of The Maggie B. with its beauty, coziness, and themes of sailing, adventure, and family.  It is the first of three books about Zoom and it may be our favorite.  

Author:  Tim Wynne-Jones
Illustrator:  Eric Beddows

The Sneetches and Other Stories


This book is an utter classic and I’m guessing most of you already have it memorized.  (I recently met Peter S. Beagle at a screening of The Last Unicorn and we ended up reciting “Too Many Daves” in a sort of call and response together at his signing table.  It was a lovely, utterly odd moment.)  We love all the stories, from “The Sneetches” and “The Zax” to “What was I Scared of?”  Nothing quite compares to the best of Dr. Seuss, and this book may be his best of all.  If you don’t already own it, I suggest you find a copy immediately.

Author: Dr. Seuss
Illustrator:  Dr. Seuss

Storm Boy


A chief’s son
went fishing
and a terrible storm arose.

Deliberately patterned on universal archetypes and Northwest Coast Native motifs, this story contains many unexpected elements for both its hero and its readers.  The boys are fascinated by this one, and I suspect the unusual, almost frightening, images play a major role.  Recommended for slightly older children, especially those who enjoy tales of the sea.

Author:  Paul Owen Lewis
Illustrator:  Paul Owen Lewis

The Big Pets


The girl was small and the cat was big.
And on certain nights
she rode on his back
to the place where
the Milk-Pool was.

Another simple and beautiful bedtime tale.  This has role reversals, great illustrations, and lots of creativity.  Perfect for  a quick and cozy read before bed.

Author: Lane Smith
Illustrator: Lane Smith