Friday, May 17, 2019

Picture Book Review: Sea Glass Summer by Michelle Houts

Image: Candlewick
Sea Glass Summer by Michelle Houts. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. unpgd. Candlewick Press, May 14, 2019. 9780763684433. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

"Some years ago, a young boy named Thomas spent his summer at his grandmother's island cottage." She gives him his grandfather's magnifying glass and Thomas spends countless hours beach-combing and examining things through the glass. When he finds a piece of glass ground smooth by the sea, his grandmother tells him that every piece tells a story. That night, he has a vivid dream about the origins of that piece of glass. He accidentally breaks the magnifying glass when he falls on the ferry that will return him to the mainland at summer's end, so he tosses the shards into the sea. Many years later, as evidenced by the pink crocs, a little girl named Annie finds a smooth piece of sea glass near her family's seaside cottage and runs excitedly to her "Papaw Tom" to share her discovery. He tells her that each piece of sea glass tells a story and that night...

Such a beautiful story of connection - to beloved grandparents, to nature, to history and the power of story and the imagination. The writing is quite lovely; but the gorgeous watercolor illustrations are the stars here. Each one is arresting. A few are so photorealistic, I did a double-take. The dream sequences are just as detailed but in all gray hues, which makes them all the more remarkable.

Sea Glass Summer would be a wonderful lap book for sharing and also a great read aloud to kick off summer in story time at the library or in elementary classrooms. Inspire some young beach combers. 

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