Out of the Ocean
Debra Frasier. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-258849-6
""My mother says you can ask the ocean to bring you something. If you look, she says, you might find it,"" begins this picture book tribute to the sea. While the child covets such tangible ""treasures"" as sea glass, pelican feathers and a note-filled bottle, her mother ""keeps asking for things that are too big to carry home. Sun. Water. Silver moonlight. The sound of waves. Sea turtle tracks at dawn."" Frasier's (On the Day You Were Born) narrative sets the mother's rather impressionistic passages against the child's more grounded listing of the many ocean gifts the child collects. Graphically, the book combines full-spread photos of beach findings and sunlit water with Frasier's fanciful collage-like art. The opening double-page illustration invites readers to view the sunny beach scene along with daughter and mother, the sand stretching before them, hibiscus blooming and frothy waves hitting the shore. However, succeeding spreads are interrupted by grainy, distorted photos inset within the collages. Overlaid on top of these photos, framed in heavy black lines, mother and child are silhouetted with no discernible features, which tends to distance the reader. This jarring juxtaposition makes what would otherwise be a kind of spiritual scavenger hunt at the beach a rather jolting experience for the reader. ""An Ocean Journal"" at volume's end offers aspiring beachcombers information on some of the sea's fruits. All ages. (Mar.) FYI: The book is also available in the Out of the Ocean Treasure Bag and Ocean Journal Package (includes book, bag and 8-page journal) for $19.95, ISBN -201521-3.
Reviewed on: 03/16/1998