SANDCASTLE. Written and illustrated by Einat Tsarfati. Candlewick. Ages 4-6. $17.99.
Einat Tsarfati, an Israeli author-illustrator, is the new Martin Handford (WHERE’S WALDO?). SANDCASTLE opens with a little girl at the beach. Immediately, there is glorious detail for children to explore. Amongst the human sunbathers are a mermaid, a seal, and a coven of witches sitting on a blanket around their cauldron. The girl builds a giant sandcastle—a real, life-sized one. A cross-section page shows that the castle has many special rooms for such things as ice cream, a carousel, a jungle garden, natural history collections, a ballroom, and a room full of balls. Kings and queens from all over the world come to visit. They have a dance and a Triathlon of Knights Tournament, which consists of Twister, badminton, and a card game. But, they quickly get cranky over the fact that sand is creeping in and making everyone uncomfortably gritty and angry. The little girl responds by starting a big sandball fight. This distracts her guests, but results in the destruction of her beautiful castle. Unflappable throughout the book, she calmly begins building another. Every page has things to look for. Some recur, like a message in a bottle. Who will find it and what does it say? A little Corgi dog is included as well, perhaps as a nod to British royalty. This is a book to come back to again and again to find more details and stories within the story.