Sea Glass Summer

Sea Glass Summer

SEE GLASS SUMMER. Written by Michelle Houts. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Candlewick Press. $16.99.

This lovely collaboration of illustration and text opens with a boy named Thomas staying with his grandmother at her island cottage. Grandmother gives Thomas a magnifying glass that used to belong to his grandfather. Together, they scour the shore looking closely at treasures from the sea. When Grandmother finds a piece of sea glass, she tells Thomas that his grandfather always said each piece of sea glass tells a story.

That night, Thomas dreams of a shipyard long ago. A bottle of champagne breaks on the bow of a new navy destroyer, christening it and adding shards of glass to the sea. Someday they will become sea glass. Thomas keeps looking for sea glass. Each time he finds a new piece, he dreams its story.

Ibatoulline’s illustrations are done in photo realistic style. Glowing colors show the light at the beach while Thomas and his grandmother are searching for sea glass. But, when Thomas dreams, the images are in black and white, like an old-time newsreel.

Look for the many layers of meaning in both text and illustration. For example, when summer is over and Thomas is leaving the island, he drops and breaks his grandfather’s magnifying glass. The pictures show him giving those bits of the glass to the sea.

Then, the book closes with a new child on the same beach, a girl who finds sea glass and has a grandfather named Pawpaw Tom. This circular aspect of the story is like the rhythm of the ocean that creates the sea glass. It is early to be thinking about possible Caldecott books, but this one is sure to make watch lists.