cover image The Sand Children

The Sand Children

Joyce Dunbar. Interlink Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56656-309-3

Dunbar's (This Is the Star) evocative tale of a sand creature who comes to life in the dreams of a boy suggests a summertime version of Raymond Briggs's The Snowman. During a seaside camping trip, a boy and his father spend the day building castles and a grand sand giant on the beach. The sun sets on their fun and the boy has anxious thoughts about his creation being destroyed during the night by the tide or perhaps by some rambunctious kids. But in the magical glow of moonlight, the boy frolics with the giant and the sand children that the giant has constructed. Upon waking up in the tent, the boy--and readers--wonder whether the nighttime adventure really happened. Though Dunbar's premise is intriguing, her story unfolds at a somewhat choppy pace, slowed by clunky matter-of-fact sentences (e.g., after the boy completes his sand giant: ""I sat down by his side. I leaned on his great round belly and grinned at his great big grin. We both sat staring out to sea""). Edwards marks his picture book debut with grainy paintings bathed in appropriately changing light. Several warm portraits of the boy and his father are appealing, but the pages are crowded (with insets, vignettes, three-quarter spreads) and the interpretation of the toothy, wild-eyed giant and his revels is rather too literal-minded for the more open-ended text. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)