We Almost Went to the Beach – Instead We Read Beach Related Books

Ben and ZipShark KissHope For WinterBears Sea Escape
Thinking ML and I might take a trip to the coast for Labor Day, I checked out some ocean related books. Luckily, I never told her about my idea. With the start of school, we needed a low-key weekend. However, I knew with three days off from school, ML would be begging to have friends over. So I decided a sleepover on Friday night would be the ticket.

Last night I showed ML and Louise a stack of ten books. Allowing them to each pick two. I laughed when I saw they chose all the ocean related books.

Ben & Zip:  Two Short Friends by Joanne Linden and illustrated by Tom Goldsmith – Ben’s friend is missing.  He searches the boardwalk and stands on a bench to get a better view.  It doesn’t help.  So he climbs a picnic bench.  Then, a lifeguard stand where he is able to see his friend.  There’s a surprise to this book I’m not sharing.  The illustrations in this book are a relief from the airbrushed media our children are exposed to daily.  It shows what real people look like at the beach.  “Round bellies, flat bellies, bellies white and brown.  Hairy bellies, jelly bellies, bellies hanging down.”

Shark Kiss, Octopus Hug by Lynn Rowe Reed and illustrated by Kevin Cornell – A rollicking story about a shark wanting a hug and an octopus wanting a kiss. No matter what these sea animals try, the people on the beach aren’t interested in hugging and kissing them. The book ends with Octopus receiving a kiss and Shark being hugged.  Eight arms wrap themselves around Shark to comfort him resulting in a kiss for Octopus.  I got a hug and kiss at the end of the book too.

Hope for Winter: The True Story of a Remarkable Dolphin Friendship
by David Yates, Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff and Isabelle Hatkoff – This photographic tale of two dolphins’ friendship entranced these animal-loving, science minded girls. They recognized the story of Winter and knew there was a movie too. Guess what I just added to my Netflix queue? We’ll have to invite Louise over for a movie night when it arrives.

The Bear’s Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud – We didn’t read this choice. The girls were getting restless… acting like snakes inside their sleeping bags,  Near lights out, I showed the girls how they could find the baby bear in each picture. Thought it would be a way to calm them. Not so much. Instead they were giggling about the boat with the swimming pool, bedrooms, exercise room, and more. Safe to say they’ve never been on a cruise.

I picked one too… Who Sleeps, Cat the Cat? I couldn’t resist reading this new Mo Willems book knowing the girls would howl at page nine. Cat let’s Horse the Horse know it’s time to sleep. His response is “I’m on it!” And he is. He’s on the potty. There was howling. Then, ML noticed Cat the Cat’s head was turned and she was hiding her eyes. So they laughed even more.

Who Sleeps

PS:  Don’t tell ML, but Louise’s mom and I are planning a picnic and swimming for Sunday afternoon.  Watermelon and the pool.  A perfect way to end summer… if you aren’t at the beach.

The Bear’s Song – Also Known As “Une chanson d’ours”


The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud was first published in France in 2011 under the title Une chanson d’ours.  It is exquisite and amusing.  Papa Bear starts hibernating, but Little Bear is too busy chasing a honeybee “to hear winter’s whisper.”  Papa suddenly awakens and realizes Little Bear is gone.  From there, a cat and mouse chase begins through the forest, the city and into The Palais Garnier as Papa Bear searches diligently for Little Bear.  The Palais Garnier is a 1,979 seat opera house in Paris.

The story is simple, but the illustrations are not.  The color scheme consisting mostly of muted red, gold, grey and black gives the book an elegant flair. ML searched for Papa Bear and Little Bear and Bee in each page spread.  She enjoyed the detailed scenes…  two woodcutters climbing a tree leaving the saw in the trunk below…  an elephant in the window of a fancy apartment house…  what ML perceived to be mermaid enjoying a drink with her date before the show.

We loved the varied reactions of people encountering the bear.  ML’s favorite scene… when the bear is on stage and everyone runs for safety.  Especially those climbing the poles to get in the balcony.

I always discover something when focusing on a book first published in another country.  With this book, the cover of the English edition differs from the French version.  See both covers above.  It’s a marketing thing.  Lauren Smith created the cover, and her website states “My job was to create a new cover and interior text layout to work more effectively for the American market while still keeping its Parisian charm.”  Maybe books with red covers sell better in France;  and books with blue covers and cuddling bears sell better in the United States.  Wishing I had the French version to see the differences in text layout.

Check out the covers for other languages below.  The Greek Version ena nanourisma gia arkoudes / ένα νανούρισμα για αρκούδες cover is the same image of the original French version but with a different color scheme and font.  The cover of the German version Bühne frei für Papa Bär! differs completely from the English and French versions.  Other than the title,The Polish version Misiowa piosenka,  Italian version Una canzone da orsi and Swedish version Björnens sång.  Same illustration, same font, same color scheme.

Thank you Chronicle Books for publishing this translation.  ML and I will remember pouring over the illustrations many years.  Check out the covers for other languages below.  We found them fascinating.  I wonder how many languages this book has been published in?  It deserves to be a star of children’s literature internationally.  We are looking forward to the English publication of Coquillages et petit ours… The Bear’s Sea Escape in August, 2014.  Amy Yu Gray created a new cover for the English edition.