From the Publisher
"A remarkably unified effort: everything works together to create a flawless picture book." Publishers Weekly, starred review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The backdrop is a day by the sea, the set design features impeccably executed cut-paper collages, and the mild drama centers on young Xiao Ming, who is learning to write Chinese. His mother, wisely referring to the various activities around them, helps him draw relevant characters in the sand. Water, sky, person, child, woman--one by one they record the Chinese symbol and talk of how best to remember each. The character for person , for example, looks like ``someone walking'' and water looks like ``a big splash.'' A graceful marriage of the general (the sweeping scenes of a carefree crowd at the beach) and the specific (the lesson in Chinese), this picture book debut can be enjoyed on several levels. Lee's mellow-hued collages feature a multicultural crowd of beachgoers, while elaborate cut-outs grace the borders, echoing the fluid line of the Chinese characters. It's a remarkably unified effort: everything works together to create a flawless picture book. Ages 4-8. (May)
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
Ms. Lee's blend of fact and fiction introduces readers to ten Chinese characters and their Mandarin pronunciation. Young Xiao Ming's mother draws the ideograms in the sand and explains how closely they resemble what they name: The symbol for water, for instance, looks like a big splash.
Children's Literature - Yumiko Bendlin
This book provides great insight into Chinese characters. Xiao Ming's mother teaches him to write characters on the sand by explaining the shape of the character and how it correlates with the meaning. Though written in simple language, Lee explains the cultural insight of each character, and teaches each letter to the reader. The collage on each page is beautifully done, with great detail and bountiful colors. The Chinese characters are very simple, and are related to everyday life so that anyone will be able to understand and write them. The author also provides a glossary of pronunciation in the back of the book. A great book for classes studying multicultural literature.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-A little boy and his mother's day at the beach is the vehicle for this concept book about Chinese characters. Ten characters are introduced as mother and child write them in the sand; verbal mnemonics are reinforced by pictures of people or nature. For example, the character for ``woman'' is vividly illustrated by a woman posing for a photo with a baby in her arms. However, ``sky'' confuses the related characters for ``person'' and ``big'' in the text; the illustration of ``water'' is too abstract and disjointed; and the explanation of ``sand'' is illustrated with a beach scene that has no relevance to how the character is drawn. The pictures are clever and visually appealing, consisting largely of cut-paper collage with some drawings. Peggy Goldstein's Long Is a Dragon (China, 1990) is a more effective introduction, but is for a slightly older audience. At the Beach is an attractive and clever book, but an inconsistent one.-John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library
Distinctive paper-cut collages introduce children to 10 Mandarin Chinese characters. Sketching in the sand at a crowded beach, Xiao Ming's mother literally draws comparisons between the Chinese character and the object it resembles: "See, it looks like a person walking." The corresponding double-page spread shows a long-haired guy, Walkman in hand, strolling along the shore. Surrounded by borders with seashore images--shells, seagulls--and made of beautiful papers, the whimsical compositions have a strong sense of pattern, rhythm, and design. In addition to the letter lessons, the illustrations feature multicultural beachcombers playing in the waves, building sandcastles, and hiding behind sunglasses. The attractively drawn pronunciation guides placed on the endpapers open and close this striking book with a flourish.