Magic Beach


Book Information

Allen & Unwin 1992
Science Curriculum

“And I might let you off easy

Yeah I might lead you on

I might wait for you to look for me

And then I might be gone

That’s where I’ve come from and where I’m going

And I am lost in between

I might go out to that phone booth

And leave a veiled invitation on your machine”

-- Ani DiFranco, “Shy” (1995)


I wanted to share my fondness for Ani DiFranco with a friend. But, as I played one of my many favorites, my friend pointed out anachronisms in the song. “Phone booth?” “Message machine?”


Yeah, she’s right. And while it doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for for the song, it’s admittedly from a past time.


There is plenty of room in children’s literature for books that bask in a current moment with details that will cause the story to eventually reach an expiration date. But there’s something special about timeless child-centric books that have the power to connect with generation after generation. That’s a category within which Alison Lester’s lyrical MAGIC BEACH falls.


“At our beach, at our magic beach

we swim in the sparkling sea,

surfing and splashing and jumping the waves,

shrieking and laughing with glee.

Wild white horses are thundering past,

racing to get to the land

plunging and prancing and tossing their heads,

then fading away on the sand.”


MAGIC BEACH consists of 15 verses; all but the last are coupled verses. The first verse of each pair describes seashore activities in which the child characters are engaged. The second verse describes the imaginative, fantastical side of the children’s play.


The quality of the poetry is sufficient to be read aloud without illustrations. Lester’s distinctive watercolor illustrations are at least as memorable as the text. A multihued young cast cavort on the sand, in the water, in a moored rowboat, and up on a dock.


Back in the early 90s, I frequently read this book to my children and my preschool students. Now I’ve begun reading it to my grandchildren. The universality of the child-centered beach play and related imaginings makes this poetic tale as fresh and exciting today as it was back then.

32 pages           978-1741144888           Ages 3-5

Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

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Filled with fun rhymes and make-believe stories, this wonderfully illustrated children's tale offers an imaginative view of a beach that includes swimming, surfing, and splashing. Imagine a perfect beach where you can swim, surf, splash through the waves, make sandcastles, hunt for treasures, explore rock-pools, muck about in boats, fish from the jetty, and build a bonfire under the stars. Imagine a beach where adventure begins. From sand castles and rock pools to boats and fish, the realistic scenes evoke images of a summer day along the waterfront where anything can happen.--from the publisher

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