June 1998


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In our family, summer isn't summer without at least a week in the sand and surf. Our four-year-old has loved the beach since he was a baby, despite the time he tried to eat the sand. Here's a diverse collection of beach books I'm saving for our long car trip from Massachusetts to Maryland, where warmer waves and a family crab feast will be waiting.

Out of the Ocean (all ages) is both a splendid story and a field guide, the result of a lifelong love affair with the ocean. Author/illustrator Debra Frasier grew up in a house in Florida right on the Atlantic Ocean, and both her passion and knowledge of the sea are evident. The young girl narrating the book explains: "My mother says you can ask the ocean to bring you something. If you look, she says, you might find it." The rest of the text and Frasier's mixed-media collages show how many different things can wash ashore shells, sea glass, a wooden shoe, abandoned rafts, turtle skulls, tangled rope, and more as the girl and her mother explore the gifts from the ocean. This is a book that encourages readers to keep their eyes peeled by including a mesh bag for found items and a separate booklet for children to make a record of their own beach-combing search.

For her innovative illustrations, Frasier worked with photographs, cut paper, real objects, and silhouettes, all arranged on a tray of sand and photographed. In "An Ocean Journal" at the end, Frasier explains the origins of her many finds and adds interesting facts about such things as flora and fauna, sea turtle tracks, water, and sand. You'll definitely want to take this book on any beach trip.

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