A young girl escapes her reality and immerses herself in her imagination in this summery tale.
Gretchen is the youngest of four siblings, all white, and she’s constantly left behind and ignored by the older kids. One breezy summer morning, the whole family goes to the beach to enjoy the sun and the waves. Little Gretchen pleads, “Wait up!” to no avail as the other children splash in the water, so she just plays on the sand with her “roly-polys,” a clutch of egg-shaped toys. The wind blows hard, snatching away her new hat with fancy ribbons. With a futile “Come back here!” Gretchen tries to grab it back, but the hat pays her as much mind as her siblings do. With the help of her hat ribbon, the clouds, a gull, and her roly-polys (amusingly, they sprout little arms and legs here), she takes a break from her frustration and loneliness, flying to her own imaginative world. In this short and simple story, Alley emphasizes looking on the bright side of things and making the best out of imperfect situations. It’s clear that Gretchen’s imaginary adventure is thoroughly satisfying. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations, done in a pastel palette, display images of lighthouses, beach grass, and other flora along with Gretchen and her siblings, giving readers a vivid depiction of a coastal New England landscape.
A quiet summer picture book to share with the young ones, one of a seasonal quartet featuring Gretchen and her siblings. (Picture book. 4-6)