cover image Ben at the Beach

Ben at the Beach

Maryann Macdonald. Viking Children's Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-670-83920-9

The day gets off to a rocky start when Grandma takes Ben and Charlotte to the beach. Ben discovers that he isn't allowed to use his new fishing pole on the pier, and his sister refuses to go into the ``bad water,'' where she is convinced monsters live. To distract her, Ben suggests they build a sand castle, and holds the toddler's hand as they wade into the water to fill her bucket. The siblings' creation wins them first prize in the sand-castle contest. They receive an inflatable boat, which Grandma rows as Ben fishes with his pole and Charlotte watches out for monsters. Ideal for summer reading, Macdonald's ( Fatso Jean, the Ice Cream Queen ) tale offers a heartwarming portrait of a caring older brother. Though McTaggart ( Make It, Break It ) depicts amiable characters in lifelike settings, his rather flat illustrations are rendered with a disappointingly drab palette. Ages 3-8. (June)