CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 41. . . .June 22, 2016
Sea Glass Summer.
Heidi Jardine Stoddart.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.
Review by Gillian Richardson.
Early each morning, after breakfast and tea, Molly and her Gram wandered the beach, looking for sea glass.
The sea glass hid among pebbles, under driftwood, and in the sand. Molly loved blue, and Gram liked green. Gram said Molly was the best finder she’d ever seen.
After lunch, seeking quiet and shade, they’d settle on the porch. Gram knit and watched boats come and go from the harbour. Molly sorted her sea glass, savouring the smooth feel and the soft, colourful glow.
“Some say that sea glass is mermaids’ tears,” Gram said as she rocked in her chair. “When boats have trouble at sea, the mermaids cry. Those coloured bits are their tears, washed ashore.”
Just in time for summer vacation at the beach, here’s a delightful tale of the importance of a child’s favourite seaside activity with a special person. Finding sea glass in soft colours has been Molly and Gram’s pastime each summer. But when Molly’s family moves to the city far away, Molly has only her collection of glass and her memories to discourage homesickness. Unable to decide how to use it, she leaves a cherished “wishing rock” with Gram—“a wish waiting to happen”. Molly carries on in her new environment, but neither charms of the changing seasons nor distance dull her longing for Gram. Constantly, little details—Gram’s quilt, her winter breath that looked like fog— remind her of her former home. Come spring, when Gram sends the wishing rock back and “bud green, sprout green, leaf-burst green” all remind Molly of sea glass, she knows what she needs most...another sea glass summer.
This story is infused with the loving connection between generations, symbolized by sea glass and a special rock, all treasures that endure the passage of time. The legend of mermaids’ tears imparts the perfect emotional element to Molly’s jar of coloured glass bits, and the anticipation of the role of the wishing rock is a thread that pulls the reader through the plot. Lyrical language makes this book a great read-aloud. You can almost hear the susurration of the waves in the alliterative line, “Molly sorted her sea glass, savouring the smooth feel and the soft, colourful glow”. There are snatches of rhyme (“Molly dreamed of ships and sails and mermaid tales”, “icicles were dripping, ropes twirled for skipping”) and onomatopoeia (“Molly jumble-tumbled in the leaves”). It’s a story worth rereading for the fun of savouring the word-pictures.
The author is also the illustrator, and her choice of paper collage lends depth to the gaily coloured illustrations. The Maritime shore comes to life in brilliant sea blue/green, invigorating grass green, Gram’s vivid yellow cottage and wildflower pink and purple. Equally striking is the autumn scene of orange leaves and jack-o-lanterns. It’s clever how the slight swoop of Molly’s skirt is enough evidence of the wind that stirs the leaves. Icy blue winter sky contrasts with starkness of bare birches, and the spring scene, rich in fresh green, evokes the hope that Molly never relinquished.
Sea Glass Summer is sure to be a favourite of young readers who empathize with Molly’s heartfelt yearning to preserve the treasured memories of her young life.
Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.
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