A young girl must reluctantly leave the city and friends she loves in favor of summer in a cottage with her family on the Pacific coast.
The young protagonist of this lyrical picture book doesn’t want to leave her friends behind. However, the trip is not optional. Her negative reaction to the ocean upon arrival (“dull, droning, dreary water”) is important as it highlights the drastic change her feelings undergo over the course of the story. After a couple of days of avoid-the-ocean tantrums, the protagonist, “slowly, grumping,” accompanies her mother to the water. The pale color palette used throughout the story successfully evokes a watery, sun-bleached feel—a perfect complement for this beach story. The descriptive prose continues, chronicling the evolution of the protagonist’s response to the ocean from avoidance to a desire to make that ocean her “Specific Ocean” to a reluctance to leave, ending with the realization that the ocean will always be inside her. Her final description of the ocean is rapturous: “Calm. Blue. Ruffled. Gray. Playful. Green. Mysterious. Black. Foggy. Silver. Roaring. White.” Some of the protagonist’s thoughts and concerns feel a bit adult, but the poetry of the text makes this easy to forgive. The slight didacticism of the oceanographic message is similarly easy to overlook.
A lovely, quiet beach story. (Picture book. 5-9)