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Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Beach Tail, written by Karen Lynn Williams and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Boyds Mills Press, Penguin. 2010. $21.95 ages 3 and up

""A Sea Lion?" Dad asked.
"A Sandy Lion," Gregory said.
"Sandy needs a tail," said Dad.
Gregory picked up his sturdy
drawing stick.
"Don't go in the water,
and don't leave Sandy," Dad said.
"I won't," said Gregory.
Dad sat down on the dolphin towel
under the blue umbrella."

A lion in the sand is the perfect way for Gregory to express himself.  As he draws the tail, it gets longer and longer. When he realizes that he can no longer see his father, he knows he is lost. But, the tail comes to rescue and leads him safely back to the blue umbrella and Dad.

What fun for all children...a day of wonder at the beach, in the sand and the sun, following your heart along the sandy shore. The rhythm of the text carries Gregory along, past the purple jellyfish  past an old abandoned sand castle, close to a horseshoe crab and through a giant hole. There is wonder wherever he looks. No adults, just Gregory and the adventure of sand exploration and freedom. He even leaves his signature for all to see.

There is a niggling worry when he turns back around and realizes how far he has come. But, his sandy stick trail and all of the recognizable landmarks uncomplicate the return trip. Soon he is right where he belongs, alongside his father and under the blue umbrella.

The palette chosen by Floyd Cooper for creating his pastel art puts his readers on that sunny, warm beach alongside Gregory, an aspiring artist himself. The grainy texture and the sun-washed backgrounds are perfect for helping us conjure up the warm days of summer. He is incredibly adept with the many close-ups of a young boy exploring his surroundings. Endearing and quite lovely!

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