cover image Once Upon a Tide

Once Upon a Tide

Tony Mitton. David Fickling Books, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-385-75100-1

In this rhyming escapist fantasy, an unnamed boy and his older friend Bess build a boat, sail ""to the place/ where sea meets sky"" and find buried treasure. They then return to their home shore to grow older as contented beach bums, ""singing songs/ of far-off seas/ with children sitting/ round our knees."" Although Mitton's (the Amazing Machines series) short verses never quite take flight (""We whistled a chantey./ We waved to a whale./ Bess worked the rudder/ and I worked the sail""), Young's (Young at Art) watercolor-and-ink pictures exude her customary liveliness and attention to detail. The scene in which the children find the treasure, for instance, features lush green palms, a skull-shaped (but not too scary) rock-even a monkey observer. As in her A Summery Saturday Morning, Young proves once again her special affinity for stories inspired by the seashore. Using delicate washes of blue and green, and dramatic stains of purple, she makes the great expanse of water seem as magical as it does in real life. Ages 2-6.