cover image Hello Ocean

Hello Ocean

Pam Munoz Ryan. Charlesbridge Publishing, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-88106-987-7

This rhyming picture book about the pleasures of a day at the beach gets off to a rocky start. ""Hello, ocean,/ my old best friend./ I'm here,/ with the five of me, again!"" read the opening lines, but only four figures appear on the page. It may take repeated readings for youngsters to understand that the ""five of me"" refers to the girl's five senses--despite the bold type for words like ""hear"" and ""sounds"" (though, curiously, in the first verse, ""I see the ocean,/ gray, green, blue,..."" the word ""see"" is not in bold). Ryan's (Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride; Esperanza Rising) descriptions of the seaside are strongest when she sticks to concrete examples of the child's experience: the look of ""amber seaweed,/ speckled sand,/ bubbly waves that kiss the land"" and the feel of ""squishy,/ sandy,/ soggy ground,/ slippery seaweed that wraps around."" Her metaphors, on the other hand, sometimes become abstract (""I hear the ocean,/ a lion's roar,/ crashing rumors/ toward the shore""). Astrella's (The Desert Alphabet Book) acrylics on airbrushed paper take on an almost photographic quality. His sun-washed shades vary in intensity from the subtly blended blues and greens of the surf to a range of beach-ball tones: the orange of a seagull's feet, the pinks and purples of a bathing suit and the fire-engine red of a picnic cooler. Ages 3-8. (Feb.)