Hum and Swish

Neal Porter Bks. Jun. 2019. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823442867.
PreS-Gr 2–Sporting a blue-and-white bathing suit and wind-tossed hair, a young girl hovers near the ocean’s edge. She collects interesting objects in her pail, constructs with rocks and sand, and fashions fanciful figures out of shells and seaweed. “Jamie hums. The waves swish,” and time seems to stop, as the child immerses herself in her activities and imagination. When passersby repeatedly ask her what she is making, she responds, “I don’t know,” seeming to prefer the company of the sea, which “tells stories” but “doesn’t ask questions.” Finally, a woman arrives, carrying an easel and art supplies. When Jamie asks her what she is making, the newcomer answers, “I don’t know yet.” They work side by side in silent camaraderie until both finish their projects, and the two works of art, each unique and amazing, are finally revealed. Created with acrylic and oil paint, the full- and double-page illustrations depict a rock-strewn beach embraced by stacked cliffs in muted pastel hues and topped with lush evergreens. The sea shimmers with layer upon layer of deep blues, olive greens, and wave-crashing whites. Jamie’s facial expressions convey her total absorption in her activities, and it’s fun to watch the way she inventively incorporates different objects, both natural and found, into her endeavor.
VERDICT This day-at-the-seashore tale also serves as a celebration of creative play and artistic exploration, and a reminder to stop and smell the roses

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