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MAGIC BEACH by Crockett Johnson


by Crockett Johnson & illustrated by Crockett Johnson

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 2005
ISBN: 1-932425-27-6

Issued with revisions in 1965 as Castles in the Sand, with early 60s-ish illustrations by Betty Fraser, this philosophical tale appears here in its original form, beneath Johnson’s own rough, expressive sketches—sandwiched between an eloquent appreciation of both author and art by Maurice Sendak, and a publishing history by renowned scholar Philip Nel. Two children, arguing on a beach about whether it’s better to read stories or to be in one, discover that writing “JAM,” “BREAD,” “CANDY” and similar words in the sand brings those very objects ashore with the next wave. Eventually they conjure a “KING” who commands them to leave, just as the waves wash away everything but a large seashell. Off the youngsters go, still holding different views. According to Nel, Johnson’s editor Ursula Nordstrom didn’t think this was a story for children. As in so much else, she was right—but it does make a handsomely packaged artifact for adult readers of children’s literature. (Picture book. Adult)