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Have You Been to the Beach Lately?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A perceptive and witty look into the 11-year-old heart. Thirty-three short poems describe moments during a boy's day at the beach . The simple language and conversational tone are just right for capturing the emotions of a child on the edge of adolescence. The narrator goes from "Watching Teenager" ("When I'm a teenager/I'm never/getting zits on my face/and I'm never going to/make a fool of myself/just to impress some girl") to "Looking" ("Believe me: it's much easier/swapping baseball cards/than trading looks/with a girl") to playing "Shadow Football" ("At first I hardly notice this dark/spirit spilling out of me until/I have a double exactly my size/matching me step for step"). He also has a gift for observation and humor: the "Beach Baby" is ". . . one year old. One tooth. A total pudge./ She tries to get out of the water but her/soaked diaper must weigh/ten thousand pounds/so all she can do is /sit." Black-and-white photos add atmosphere and extend the feeling that seemingly ordinary times can be magical, if you really look at them. Both boys and girls will enjoy this accessible yet artful book. Perfect for use with creative writing groups.
---School Library Journal, August 2001

The author of I Am Wings (Simon & Schuster, 1994), and Relatively Speaking (Orchard, 1999), presents us with another well-done collection of poems focused on a specific topic. Short poems from the viewpoint of an 11 -year-old boy trace a day his family spends at the beach. The well-written poems, some lighthearted and some more insightful, cover fairly universal themes that most middle-school-aged children can relate to. For the most part, they do sound as though they come from the mind of an 11I -year-old. All come together nicely to give readers a realistic view of all that goes on at the beach from the time of arrival through the drive home at night. The b&w photos complement the text very well and many add just the right background for the poems. Written mostly in free verse, these poems demonstrate that good poetry does not have to rhyme.
--Library Talk, September/October 2001

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An 11-year-old narrator chronicles a day near the surf with his family in Have You Been to the Beach Lately? by Ralph Fletcher, photos by Andrea Sperling. From the boy's initial encounter with the sea to "Sunset," and finally "Driving Home," his more than 30 poems cover all the senses of the salt-air environs. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Anyone who has spent time at the beach will appreciate the charm and magic of these free verse poems. Written from the perspective of an eleven-year-old boy who is going to the beach for the first time, the verses capture the wonder of an ocean that "wouldn't keep still even long enough to shake hands." He notices that people are calm and do not always seem to care how they look. The lifeguard perches atop his tower like a bronze god on Mount Olympus, while "a baby struggles out of the water wearing a diaper that must weigh a thousand pounds. The boy enjoys being buried, watching teenage girls, teasing his brother, and talking on his "shell-ular phone." Even a sudden storm does not dampen his spirits and he is able to enjoy a solitary swim as others flee. Feeling content and sleepy on the way home, he notices that the salt water has made his skin "one size too small." Thirty-three beautiful poems will make you feel the wonder of the sea creatures and the majesty of the ocean; and cause you to smile. Lovely black-and-white photographs capture the essence of the poems while revealing the beauty of the beach. 2001, Orchard Books/Scholastic, . Ages All. Reviewer: Laura Hummel
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-A perceptive and witty look into the 11-year-old heart. Thirty-three short poems describe moments during a boy's day at the beach. The simple language and conversational tone are just right for capturing the emotions of a child on the edge of adolescence. The narrator goes from "Watching Teenagers" ("When I'm a teenager/I'm never/getting zits on my face/and I'm never going to/make a fool of myself/just to impress some girl") to "Looking" ("Believe me: it's much easier/swapping baseball cards/than trading looks/with a girl") to playing "Shadow Football" ("At first I hardly notice this dark/spirit spilling out of me until/I have a double exactly my size/matching me step for step"). He also has a gift for observation and humor: the "Beach Baby" is "-one year old. One tooth. A total pudge./She tries to get out of the water but her/soaked diaper must weigh/ten thousand pounds/so all she can do is/sit." Black-and-white photos add atmosphere and extend the feeling that seemingly ordinary times can be magical, if you really look at them. Both boys and girls will enjoy this accessible yet artful book. Perfect for use with creative-writing groups.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An accessible collection of well-written poems for middle-school students and a welcome find, as rare as an unbroken sand dollar on a busy beach. Fletcher (Uncle Daddy, p. 407, etc.) has written several collections of poetry for middle-schoolers, as well as picture books and books on writing for both children and their teachers. This collection of 33 non-rhyming poems follows an 11-year-old boy through a day at the beach with his family, with the beach—borderland between water and earth—serving as metaphor for the borderland between childhood and adolescence. In a medley of poems that cover a wide range of preteen emotions and behavior, the likable narrator teases his little brother, plays with his buddies in the surf, and watches the bikini-clad girls, who range from impossibly untouchable college girls to a girl from his class who just might be touchable. Most of the poems are written in first person and have the authentic voice of an 11-year-old, but a few seem too mature in subject matter or insight for a boy of that age. Sperling's black-and-white beach photos help set the scene and break up the text, but don't particularly relate to the individual poems, and the boy in the cover photograph looks too young to be 11. Kids and adults will find the poems meaningful despite these minor drawbacks, and teachers who use Fletcher's popular books on writing will want to incorporate these new poems into their lesson plans. (Poetry. 9-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531303306
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2001
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.85 (w) x 8.55 (h) x 0.36 (d)

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