Lothian Children’s, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
At first, when you look at a deserted beach it looks like an empty seascape of sand, surf, sea, and sandhills undisturbed by much more than seagulls and the incessant breeze – the ocean’s kiss to remind you who is in charge.
But take off your adult sunglasses and see it through the eyes of the child and it becomes a treasure chest of things to discover – on the sand, in the rockpools, up in the dunes, down where the waves break and out on the horizon.
In this beautifully illustrated story-in-rhyme – young readers are transported to the beach and perhaps their own memories as they discover the magic with mother and daughter. The ordinary becomes the extraordinary as shells and seaweed become a mermaids’ jewels; a ship on the horizon transports treasure to unknown places; footsteps in the sand become pathways to new adventures and undiscovered worlds. And throughout it all, is threaded the unending love between mother and child fed by the small moments that become memories and the joy of sharing them in a timeless bubble, reminding us that those are the most precious things of all. For as much as the little girl gets pleasure in her finds, the mother gets pleasure in the little girl’s pleasure.
Certainly, the story echoed my own childhood by the sea at the south of the South Island of New Zealand where my brother and I knew to watch the tide, come home when it turned or when darkness began to fall. But not all children have that particular experience, so perhaps this is the springboard for getting them to recall and retell a time that they shared with someone special, in a different setting where there were just two of them without distractions, making discoveries and memories together. Maybe they could create an I Love You card illustrated with the memory to give to the other person, to create another memory and that special joy of the bond.