- Age Range: 3 - 5 years
- Grade Level: Preschool - Kindergarten
- Hardcover: 40 pages
- Publisher: Orchard Books; Big edition (June 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780439687850
- ISBN-13: 978-0439687850
- ASIN: 0439687853
- Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 0.2 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #373,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beach Hardcover – June 1, 2006
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From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3–As the day begins, the beach is empty, waiting to be filled. Cooper opens with a gorgeous stretch of sand in sun-flecked, amber-white watercolors, bounded by a sea so darkly blue that it seems still half-asleep. In the following pages, he tells the story, mainly in detailed splashes of paint, of the people and things that transform the quiet area into a lively spot. Readers will enjoy the affectionate portraits of swimmers, kite-flyers, sunbathers, seagulls, and barking dogs. A struggle with an inner tube or a beach umbrella, the people who go into the water but forget that they are still wearing their glasses, the clouds that look like spilled popcorn: here, as in life, it's the little things that snag readers' attention. Cooper's portrayal of a day at the shore is generous with such minutiae; his fondness for his subject is evident and infectious. As the beach once again empties at the end of the story, it's tempting to return to the first page, to a hundred possible activities at the shore–none of which is more earthshaking than a toppled sandcastle.–Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
K-Gr. 2. Cooper creates a paean to the pleasures of a day spent near, on, and in the water. Generous double-page spreads, which extend a full 20 inches across, convey an expansive sense of the sand and sky, and show the beach as it fills with bathers engaged in a variety of activities. Even the sky becomes crowded as clouds roll in. The pleasantly fluid watercolors, given definition by thin brush lines, work better on the panoramic double-page spreads than on pages with multiple vignettes, which, despite brief descriptive captions, lack enriching details. Even so, the book successfully evokes the fun and feeling of a day at the beach and the myriad things that can and do happen at the shore. Use this with John Burningham's humorous Time to Come Away from the Water, Shirley (1977). John Warren Stewig
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Open the book and we've a two-page spread of an empty beach, blue sky above, water stretching far into the distance. Says the book cheerily, "Away to the beach! Away to sand and salt water, to rolling dunes and pounding waves". Turn the page and three separate images of the beach meet your eye. In each one, more and more people crop up. This section is without text. Turn the page again then. Twelve small scenarios are here, each one showing different people settling into their beachgoing routines. They're all familiar. The people who inch into the water a miniscule centimeter at a time. Or the person who inflates a large inner tube... and then just walks into the water up to her ankles. The people frolic and the waves, "come in hills and valleys, in mountains and canyons, in craggy peaks and sweeping plains". Meticulously Cooper captures the sounds, the tastes, and even the detritus that constitutes a day at the beach. And at the end, the three panels of the shore become six, and people start to go home. "Sand is everywhere - between toes and in bathing suits and inside ears. Inside, too, is the motion of the waves, the knowledge of a day well spent, a day to remember when the beach is far away".
First of all, this book stands at an impressive 12.3 x 10.2 inches. So right off the bat you find that you're dealing with an impressive beastie. Then the color scheme starts to hit you. The endpapers are all soft sea-friendly greens, pinks, blues, and brown/purples. These are the colors you find near the ocean, captured perfectly by Mr. Cooper. Now in the past I've always found Cooper's people and animals to be almost too bulky to thoroughly enjoy. With "Beach" this problem is perfectly alleviated. It's like Cooper went to the Chris Ware School of Tiny Humans (albeit with a child-friendly touch). The people in this book are little more than small, penciled figures. You cannot make out their individual features or digits, and it doesn't matter a bit. Somehow, Cooper is able to suggest a whole range of emotion, movement, and energy with his tiny people. The woman who changes into her swimsuit under her towel makes all the awkward movements, arms akimbo and body twisted, you'd expect from such an attempt. The dog that dives into the waves to retrieve some driftwood splashes and cavorts in a thoroughly canine manner. This kind of miniscule study of the human (or animal) figure is deeply impressive. More importantly, it's interesting in a way that kids will find particularly fun.
But it was Cooper's language that surprised me the most about this book. First of all, the little situations involving the beachgoing crowd are almost Zen at times. "A woman lathers on sunscreen and reaches for the spot that cannot be reached". Or better still, "A boy and a girl ride their parents in a crab race". "A man wades with his baby, keeping an eye out for jellyfish". "Seagulls pull their heads tight into their shoulders and watch everyone leave". And then the descriptions grow broader as the illustrator starts to pull back from the individuals. We see a couple benches under a roof and the text reads, "Picnic baskets open with peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, peaches, cookies, and iced tea. Towels get sticky. After lunch, children walk past the outdoor showers to the truck that sells ice-cream sandwiches". This book is now begging to be read aloud. And, quite frankly, you'd have to be made out of stone itself not to crave an ice-cream sandwich after the reading.
Maybe because "Beach" brought to mind all those wonderful Anno books I read as a child ("Anno's Journey", "Anno's USA", "Anno's Spain", and so forth) I really connected with this tale of average people doing something as basic and familiar as relaxing on the shore. This has all the makings of a personal family classic to be treasured for years to come. I don't know if the hungry masses will be as taken in by its charms, but I personally feel that this is a wonder of a picture book. A pure unadulterated delight.
The delicately shaded, bright watercolors capture place, people, and movement like few other picture books. The book unfolds just as a day at the beach might, as people gather and populate the beach, so do clouds and birds, waves and umbrellas. The books engulfs you with these pictures, inviting you to play with the cloud images and the various activities both in and out of the water. You can smell it. You can taste it. Even though the content and style of the pictures has a slightly 1960's feeling to it, the images are transcendant, and their quality gives this "classic" status.
I'll return to that one misgiving. Every few pages, Cooper crowds some very small pictures onto one page. These unframed pictures have plenty of white space around them--the problem is they're just too small. Toddlers and older small fry may have trouble distinguishing some of the activities (especially if they're unfamiliar with water activities), and just forget about these pages in group settings. I'd suggest holding the panoramas high for everyone to see, with an invitation to view the "little pictures" later. (Alternately, you could photocopy those pages and hand then out to prevent sharing difficulties!)
Some of my fondest memories (and one frightening one) are of the beaches where I grew up, and I've never lived more than 20 miles away from the coast. "Beach" is an antidote to cloudy days, a vision for those who've never been, and a visual delight for adults and their young-uns. Cooper portrays the constant magic in the everchanging beach scene, and balances the grandly majestic with the smaller-scale diversity of the beachgoers. Recommended for all ages: Non-readers, pre-readers, and veteran readers. All will rejoice in Cooper's illuminated/illuminating watercolors.