In this debut fantasy children’s book, a girl and her dog receive an invitation to make a huge contribution to the world of the Hidden Shoreline, learning something in the process.
Trinket, an 11-year-old girl, is walking along the beach on a pleasant day with her dog, Grits, a German shorthaired pointer. She’s mulling over school and an important question: Should she take it easy, as some of her friends do, or keep working hard and trying her best? Grits finds a large blue conch shell, and Trinket is astonished to hear a voice coming from inside it belonging to a Mr. Penpoint. He issues an Official Greeting and an invitation to the Hidden Shoreline: “Everyone I take there has a different adventure, depending on what they need to learn.” Mr. Penpoint shrinks Trinket and Grits and reveals himself to be a penguin with black-and-white plaid feathers. It seems that denizens of the Hidden Shoreline are engaged in an endless battle against Roarers, who come in on the waves and operate “like bad thoughts that want to take over the mind.” Now the Shoreline is in great danger because the Wind Indicator, which gave essential advance notice of Roarer attacks, has run away. The threesome set off to find him before it’s too late. In his book, Strandwitz tells an entertaining fable about the value of persevering against doubts, insecurities, and other harmful thoughts so as to find meaning in life through one’s best efforts. Luckily, comedy and the urgency of a rescue mission prevent the tale from becoming overly preachy. With her moxie, intelligence, and concern for others, Trinket is appealing, and the story’s nonhuman characters are very amusing, with playful names such as General Situation (the starfish in charge of Homeland Security). These characters do, though, face real difficulties, and their feelings are taken seriously. Wald (One Day in the Desert, 2017, etc.) provides well-rendered, charming illustrations that help readers visualize the work’s sometimes-bizarre characters and situations.
Linguistic play, adventure, and gentle lessons combine effectively in this humorous tale.