Two months ago, I took my four-year-old son to the beach. He collected shells. A lot of shells. Some of the less disgusting ones made it home. For two months, I dried them out in the garage. And then, a few days ago, my son and I made a beach collage. That collage recalled this book.
I first encountered Seashells by the Seashore about seven years ago. I was working as an assistant children's librarian at the time. In Florida. Marianne Berkes was the guest for a special summer program. Long tables had been set up along one side of the room. When Marianne arrived, the tables were covered with all different types of shells. This was the first book she presented that day. I also think it was the first book she wrote. As she read the book, she held up the corresponding shells. The children (all 100 or so of them) were entranced. This was in Florida. These kids had grown up with seashells, seen them all their young lives, and yet after Seashells by the Seashore, the kids were looking at shells in a new light. Good books can do that.
The illustrations for this book were rendered in watercolor, so that have an open, loose, "beachy" feel. The seashells, however, are more detailed and therefore more easily recognizable. I live in South Carolina now. About an hour from the ocean, so we don't go to the beach very often. My son can recognize his shells in this book. Good illustrations can do that.