A Beach Tail

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Gregory and his dad are at the beach. There, his dad draws a picture of a "Sandy Lion" in the sand. After warning Gregory not to go into the water or leave "Sandy," his dad settles down on a towel. Gregory picks up his drawing stick to give Sandy a tail. He is minding his dad, but embarking on his own amusing adventure at the same time. As he draws with a repeated "swish-swoosh," the tail encircles a jellyfish, goes over a washed-down sand castle, rounds a horseshoe crab and goes up and down a hole. Gregory manages both to stay out of the water and to stay with Sandy. Then, after writing his name, Gregory is splashed by a wave at a jetty. Looking back, he realizes he can't see his dad anymore. "Uh-oh," he thinks. But he follows Sandy's tail around all of the places he has been until he is back to Dad, The adventure provides an interesting look at the beach scene and a satisfying conclusion. Using the texture of pastels and the tan and brown tones of the beach, Cooper depicts the story in a warm, lyrical, naturalistic fashion that makes almost photographic references in showing the appealing African American youngster and simplified expanses of sea and sand. Gregory catches our attention immediately as he stares up at us from the front of the book's cover, drawing stick in hand, while his "Sandy Lion" smiles at us from the back. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—A charming tale of creativity and discovery. When Gregory draws a lion in the sand, his father suggests that it needs a tail and a name. As the child begins making a tail with a stick, Dad reminds him, "Don't go into the water, and don't leave Sandy." Although Gregory does not go into the water, his interpretation of not leaving Sandy is highly suspect. As he continues to draw the tail, it leads him a long way down the beach. Gregory winds it around a purple jellyfish, a sandcastle, a horseshoe crab, and more, until he reaches a jetty. He turns around and has lost sight of Dad, but fortunately is clever enough to follow the tail back past his landmarks, until he finds part of Sandy, whose body has been washed away. Gregory is happy and relieved to see his father sitting under the blue umbrella on the dolphin towel. The pastel illustrations use a soft, muted palette and have a grainy, beachlike feel to them. Cooper does an outstanding job of using perspective to underscore the immensity of the beach and sea. Gregory's facial expressions are full of wonder and curiosity as he finds small discoveries during his adventure. A wonderful summer tale to share one-on-one or with a group.—Anne Beier, Hendrick Hudson Free Library, Montrose, NY
Publishers Weekly
At the beach with his father, Greg strays from his beach umbrella, but stays calm and remembers the two things Dad told him: “Don’t go in the water, and don’t leave Sandy.” Sandy is a lion Greg has drawn in the sand, and because Greg hasn’t lifted the stick with which he has drawn Sandy’s long, long tail (circling, as he goes, a jellyfish, a horseshoe crab, and other beachside marvels), he’s able to retrace his steps to find his father, who’s delighted to see him. Cooper (The Blacker the Berry) draws a startlingly real Greg in a series of tight closeups; readers will feel they can reach out and touch him. Grainy pastel and washed-out color evoke the seashore’s bleached palette, while Greg’s reverent attention to the treasures he finds is the focus of every page. The representation of an African-American father and child in a nonurban setting is welcome, while Williams’s (Four Feet, Two Sandals) even pacing and soothing text reassure children without losing momentum. Most valuable, though, is Williams’s belief in Greg and his resourcefulness; quiet satisfaction pervades his story. Ages 3–7. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
While Greg and his dad enjoy a beach day, Dad sets two rules: "Don't go in the water / and don't leave Sandy," a lion Greg has drawn in the sand. As the little boy continues drawing the lion's tail, he discovers myriad items along the shore. Williams's rhythmic, onomatopoeic Swish-swoosh of the waves and the clear, descriptive text transport readers into Greg's experiences, which range from spotting a "gooey purple jellyfish" to watching a "tiny ghost crab / scurry sideways into his dark, round hole." Cooper's mastery with pastels results in a grainy, sun-washed effect that conjures a hot seaside day. Most stunning are the endearing, intimate close-ups of Greg immersed in artistic play. Children will relate to his adventure, which pivots on the moment he realizes he has lost sight of his dad. But a winning combination of good memory and self-reliance lead to a most satisfactory ending. Scoop up this tale for its strength as a unique beach story and for its warm portrayal of an African-American son and father enjoying the outdoors. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590787120
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 1/2/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 380,816
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: AD470L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 12.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Lynn Williams is the author of over a dozen books for children, including the beloved titles Galimoto and recent award-winners such as Four Feet, Two Sandals and Circles of Hope. Her books often feature children in developing countires, and she has lived and worked in both Africa and Haiti. Ms. Williams lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Floyd Cooper has brought his artistic vision to more than sixty books and over two thousand book jackets. He is a recipient of the 2009 Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, as well as three Coretta Scott King Honors, ten ALA Notables, and an NAACP Image Award, among other honors. He lives in Easton, Pennsylvania.

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