cover image Beach


Elisha Cooper, . . Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-439-68785-0

Like Cooper's other picture books (Baseball ; Building ), this surfside exploration combines a prosaic text with loose, cartoon-like figures that detail the activities a careful observer can notice about a particular place. "Away to the beach! Away to sand and salt water, to rolling dunes and pounding waves," begins the straightforward narrative. Three vertical panels depict an empty stretch of beach, which gradually fills with people. Like the labeled illustrations in Richard Scarry's word books, several pages feature a plethora of tiny watercolor-and-pencil sketchbook drawings with one-sentence captions: "A woman changes into her swimsuit under her towel.... Two sisters fill buckets with sand and start building a sculpture.... Seagulls watch everything, hovering until made to move." Another spread brims with intriguing images of cloud shapes. The small, faceless figures resemble sophisticated drawings of an artist's wooden model positioned in various poses, as the scenes progress from early morning until dusk. But the text reads like commentary on an artist's notebook, with neither a conflict nor a plot to keep young readers involved. It may be more suitable as a meditation for older beachgoers. Ages 3-5. (June)