Sea of Dreams by Dennis Nolan ($16.99, A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, ages 3-7) is one of those books you will want to share with your child at bedtime, talk about afterwards, and then watch as your little one drifts off to sleep with the beautiful images implanted in their head.
What I love most about Nolan’s book is that, without words, it speaks to children, touching on their vast imaginations and exploring awesome possibilities. The book begins with scenes, like a movie storyboard, of a young girl building a sandcastle at the beach. Then, as the sun sets, she reluctantly leaves it, knowing that the waves will wash all her hard work away.
A lone seagull appears as both witness and bridge as we cross over into a fantasy world. Dusk settles in, a light appears in a castle window and a menacing wave approaches. Readers follow a miniature family, first glimpsed through the turret window, escaping the sea ravaged sand palace aboard a boat. While it’s no surprise when a young boy falls from the boat, it’s magical when he’s rescued by seashorses, and delivered to mermaids. At last the boy is reunited with his family, arriving safely on an island. Much in the fashion of the film Ground Hog Day, a new day dawns, ushered in on the wings of the seagull, the girl once again returns to the beach and begins building another sandcastle in the knowing company of the bird.
SPOILER ALERT! Yes, a majestic castle is constructed and yes, the girl is hesitant to leave again as the high tide threatens, but I will not let you know whether or not the light comes back on. The fantastic artwork in Sea of Dreams beckons all readers to read on and join the adventure. I have a funny feeling that if I am ever on a beach as the sun sinks below the horizon, I will be looking for little people in sandcastles from now on!