Two new picture books are the perfect introduction to a water-filled summer of fun, be it at the pool or the beach.
“Holly’s Day at the Pool” is about a young hippo, Holly, who is shown on the title page playing catch with her younger sister, Dottie. When Dottie’s favorite toy gets stuck in a tree, Holly is the only one who can rescue it. The illustration of Holly retrieving the toy shows her climbing a huge mountain and saying she is very brave.
But when it’s time to go to the pool, Holly’s bravura abandons her. She explains her fears. “What if…”
“The water is too cold?” “I get water in my eyes? Or my nose? Or my ears?” “I sink, sink, sink to the bottom?” “A BIG, scary snapping turtle pinches me?”
But when Dottie’s toy falls in the pool, Holly comes to the rescue. Children will enjoy reading about Holly, the wonderful big sister. She’s a good role model for those who have younger siblings, and kids who might be frightened of pools will relate.
This book is part of the Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase Books selection. According to Disney, “This series of original picture books puts the spotlight on the incredible artists of Disney Animation Studios. The pages of each book showcase the personal work of one of these talented artists and introduce a brand-new world and characters.”
“Vampirina at the Beach” by Anne Marie Pace and illustrated by LeUyen Pham is another perfect read for summer. This is the third book in the series that started with “Vampirina Ballerina” and continued with “Vampirina Hosts a Sleepover.” Here, Vampirina and her family and friend head to the beach at night — of course! — so the not-too-scary monsters can enjoy some sandy adventures.
The illustrations show Vampirina and her friends, who are all monster-ish, but there is one family who look just like a normal family who happen to be mixed up with the monsters. In the beginning, they don’t interact with the monsters and appear to be looking at them as if they are strange. The boy, who seems to be the same age as Vampirina, starts to have fun with her. And about a third of the way into the story, while the two are surfing together, the boy sprouts animal ears, then a tail, then paws. Turns out that he and his parents are werewolves — so they fit right in!
There is a lovely page that folds out to show the dancers during the beach dance contest. The illustrations manage to show the emotions on the faces of the different characters and are beautifully creepy.
The text gives no hint as to the monstrous nature of the characters in the illustrations. It’s simply about how to have fun at the beach and includes lessons on character. “It’s hard to be the best at something new,” and “Whether or not you come out on top, finishing with grace is what makes you a real winner.” And those lessons are just a couple of the reasons that this book is a real winner, too.
Please note, this review is based on the final hardcover books provided by Disney-Hyperion, the publisher, for review purposes.