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by Beth Ferry ; illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

Pub Date: May 5th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-544-70737-5
Publisher: HMH Books

Old Capt. Swashby’s peaceful seaside home is disturbed when a gregarious little girl and her granny move into the once-empty house next door.

The only neighbor Capt. Swashby has ever wanted was his old friend the sea, so when new neighbors began to take over the beach—and even Swashby’s deck—without permission, he leaves a message in the sand for the interlopers that reads, “NO TRESPASSING.” The sea “fiddle[s]” with Swashby’s message and washes away most of the letters, leaving the word “SING,” which the little girl does “while dancing up and down [along] Swashby’s deck.” It changes two other unwelcoming messages to invitations for the girl and her granny to “W_ISH” upon a starfish and “PL_AY” in the sand. Then, after building a sand castle (following Capt. Swashby’s grouchily delivered advice), the girl is washed out to sea—to be rescued by the old salt, beginning a wholehearted friendship. The feeling of place is solidified by Martinez-Neal’s use of color, which breathes the life into this story; the muted beige, blue, and turquoise palette is perfect for a beach tale. The cantankerous old coot is depicted as a white man with an enormous gray beard while the girl and her granny are depicted with brown skin, exuberant Afros, and enormous spectacles.

This sweet story of friendship is sure to win over even the grumpiest of listeners.

(Picture book. 4-7)