This tribute to summer, the third book from Tom Brenner about a particular time of year (following And Then Comes Halloween and And Then Comes Christmas), celebrates the school-free, hot and hazy days of one of the most memory-making seasons.
It’s a time when “the days stretch out like a slow yawn,” as the book opens, “and leaves and grasses sparkle with dew.” The author captures the sights and sounds of the season: It’s a time for flip-flops, bumblebees, the sound of lawn mowers, bicycles, lemonade stands, daylight that “pushes back bedtimes,” Fourth of July parades, fireworks, visits to the lake and more. There’s exuberance on the last day of school, as illustrator Jaime Kim shows a group of children cheering in a hallway, some giving friends hugs to send them off to summer.
Kim brings readers a diverse cast of playmates; this is truly a multicultural neighborhood. It’s idyllic and picturesque: No child forgets to put on their helmet when riding bikes, and starred-and-striped flags wave all around. In this world, the children aren’t overscheduled. They’re not shuffled off to summer camp of one sort or another; these kids get to fill their summer days with play at home. And they love it—even on the days of boredom when “it’s so hot you’re practically panting and not even the sprinklers provide relief.” Still, there’s joy radiated on every sun-sparkling spread.
Brenner paces the book well, leading up to a family’s jubilant visit to "Lake Sunnyside. Old friends gather to swim all afternoon in the “silver lake” and then congregate at night for marshmallows, chocolate and some guitar-playing at the campfire. It all winds down and wraps up with the family snuggled in sleeping bags, ready for tomorrow’s adventure.
It’s the utter joy of summer captured in 32 pages, bursting with energy and nostalgia. This is a recommended read for the final day of school as students anticipate freedom from homework and sunny, lazy days.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.