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Thursday, June 4, 2015

See You Next Year, Written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Todd Stewart. Owlkids, 2015. $17.95 ages 4 and up

"We always come on a
Saturday. We always stay
for a week. We've been
coming to the same place
every summer since I was
little. Nothing changes.
That's why I like it."

Our car rides in the summer were not to a motel that acted as home for a week of fun in the sun and sand. We didn't go every year. We did go often enough that I remember trips to Saskatchewan to spend time with relatives fondly. Our routines while there did not have the same predictable quality that the young girl narrator shares. Nonetheless, they were equally memorable for my brother and me.

The young girl in Andrew Larsen's quietly comfortable tale tells readers about the annual trip she and her family take to the same place at the beach each year.

"Every year we stay at the same place.
I call it our cottage.
But it's not really a cottage.
It's a motel."

The straightforward, memory-laden language offers a sense of peace; for me, it sparks special memories of long ago summers. I am sure it will do the same for the adults who share it with eager listeners. Each year's common events are chronicled page by page, one year the same as the next ... until this year. This year, she meets a new friend who encourages her to try diving under the waves, writing postcards, digging holes on the beach (hopefully, to the center of the earth, right?).

Suddenly it's Saturday; the week at the beach has come to an end. Wait! A surprise arrives on Monday morning ... a reminder that there is always next year!

This is a debut book for Todd Stewart, who was born in Saskatchewan, and now makes his home in Montreal. It will certainly not be the last we see of his beautiful artwork. While creating a nostalgic look at past summers, he infuses every page with light. From morning brightness to the shady cool of  the 'Tall Pines' Motel, from bold heat on the daytime beach to the warm glow of a campfire, he allows us a realistic view of this memorable summer vacation.


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