A few short weeks ago, my husband and I enjoyed a mini-getaway to the Connecticut shore, our first visit to that part of the state. Strolling along the beach, we watched young families with toddlers, beach chairs, shovels and buckets, tiny crabs and shore birds stake out their claims to favourite sandy spots.
Today, with a heat advisory in effect in the New York metropolitan region for the entire weekend, I think back longingly to that getaway. Thankfully, there are books like the Perfect Picture Book I’m highlighting today to remind me of a beach day, even if I’m nowhere near the shore.
Title: Waiting for High Tide
Written & Illustrated By: Nikki McClure
Publisher/date: Abrams Books for Young Readers/2016
Suitable for Ages: 5-7 & older
Themes/Topics: seashore, beachcombing, raft-building, tides, waiting
Opening: “WAITING FOR HIGH TIDE. I close my eyes and open them. Close and open. Still low tide. I squint and wait.”
Brief Synopsis: A boy describes a family day at the shore, building a raft together, waiting for high tide to launch it, and observing the life of the beach.
Links to Resources:
- Stroll along the shore and describe what you see;
- Collect beach treasures (but please don’t disturb living animals and plants!);
- Build a raft
Why I Like this Book:
Waiting for High Tide is like a journey to another place and era. It captures a moment in time for a multigenerational family that works together on a very hands-on, fairly low-tech project, all while savouring their time together at the shore. With every page turn, I expect Huck Finn or Thor Heyerdahl to appear, or perhaps a pirate, something clearly on the mind of the young narrator who dons glasses with one eye covered by a “patch” of barnacles. Like the seaside creatures that surround them, the family work, eat, play and revel in the return of high tide.
A Note about Craft:
Waiting for High Tide is a book that reminds me very much of those available during my childhood (trust me, a long time ago) with its limited color palette of black cut-paper illustrations with blue for the water and a few pops of pink. Its non-glossy cover could have popped straight from the early 1960s, or, as Kirkus Reviews noted in a starred review, “the artwork evokes the feel of classic 1940s and ‘50s picture books”.
Told in first person by the child narrator, the text is more stream of consciousness than what one normally finds in a picture book, especially the 500-words-or-less picture books that currently are the norm, and it’s much, much longer, too. At one point, the narrator even lists what he finds:
One fine long pole
Miscellaneous crab parts…
That a major house published Waiting for High Tide and that it garnered starred reviews gives hope to those who write longer texts and those wishing to read longer texts with their children. For an interesting discussion about picture book word count, see an article posted earlier this week on Picture Book Den by Natascha Biebow, author, editor and mentor.