cover image On the Edge of the Sea

On the Edge of the Sea

Betty Paraskevas. Dial Books, $14 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1130-3

Mischievous, animated illustrations form vibrant backgrounds in this mother-son collaboration about a fondly imagined day at the beach. Betty Paraskevas's text starts out promisingly, with a simple sweetness reminiscent of Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses --``I dreamed I lived on the edge of the sea / In a castle of sand with a window for me. . . .'' Unfortunately, in recounting this wondrous day of friends, food, sea and sand, her rhymed couplets occasionally strain for effect, which results in some facile diction and awkward meter: ``The air made me dizzy, stardust made me sneeze, / I lost my favorite hat in a wild, sudden breeze.'' Michael Paraskevas's lively, acrylic paintings are a genuine pleasure. In clear, glowing tones, he portrays hordes of delightfully tubby beach-goers frolicking in the surf, gobbling watermelon and trooping home under a moonlit sky. In a style that seems inspired by the joyful naivete of folk art and the whimsy of such surrealists as Rene Magritte, the artist fills his skies with soaring kites, bouncing beach balls and windblown umbrellas. A thoroughly winning debut. All ages. (Sept.)