Sunday 3 March 2024

Beach Song

Beach Song by Ros Moriarty & Samantha Campbell (Allen & Unwin) PB HB RRP $24.99 9781922539572 

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Ros Moriarty is the author of Kangaroos Hop and the highly acclaimed Bidhi Galing. She is the creative and managing director of leading Australian design studio, Balarinji and the co-founder of the not-for-profit Moriarty Foundation. She lives on Cammeraygal Country in Sydney.

Samantha Campbell is a published children’s book illustrator and graphic designer. Her first children’s book Alfred’s War was shortlisted for two literary awards. She is the illustrator for Coolamon Creative. She draws inspiration from her childhood growing up in remote Aboriginal communities across the Top End.

Beach Song is a lyrical story that celebrates the joy found exploring the coast. Moriarty has created a text that is a joy to read with beautiful language, alliteration, and some rhyme.  A repetitive pattern is used on each spread, that captures the fun of exploring the beach and it makes reading the text aloud joyful. When I loll and roll and twist and turn, I see what the squid sees – tumbling shells on the ocean floor that glisten and gleam in luminous light. I swim like the squid swims. The words allow for actions as the book is read.

Each animal has the child doing a different movement. It lets a child know and understand that each animal is unique and special and has its own unique place at the beach. Moriarty cleverly explores the different weather elements that can be experienced at the beach. When I run on the beach in the pelting rain, I see what the seagull sees – the sky’s own waterfall of sparkly spears from summer’s skidding purple clouds. Her word choices create wonderful visuals and immerse a child in the feeling of the beach. We also see the text take the story from morning until night. 

Campbell’s illustrations are immersive and playful. She captures a childlike view of the world and the beach environment delightfully. Her colour choices are those of an Australian sky and coast. She changes perspective according to the environment and animal. The face of the child on each spread has so much expression and a little bit of magic too. The child repeats the actions of the animal alongside the animal.   I love that as the child interacts with the environment for each animal, they are respected and admired. The fun of the beach splashes onto each spread. The cover is perfect with the title crafted from beach items found on a beach. We immediately know the book is about a child exploring the beach. The sandy endpapers with seaside animals and shells are great openers and ends for the book.

Beach Song is a picture book that would be a perfect gift for any Australian child. It is suitable for children 4 to 8 years and reads aloud wonderfully well. The book has appeal to children, parents, teachers, and librarians. Children are encouraged to explore and enjoy our beaches. It is a good fit to the Australian school curriculum and really is a celebration of the coastline of our wonderful nation.

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