Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Save Our Sand! Ballyhoo Bay by Judy Sierra

It's an idyllic scene at Ballyhoo Bay. Artist-in-residence Mira Bella is cheerily teaching painting and sculpting to grannies and kids, crabs and seals, pelicans and squids, and the patrons are eagerly anticipating the coming Ballyhoo Art Festival with its Recycled Art Cycle Chase. But then, one spring day, dire signs appear, proclaiming the end of the people's favorite beach.

Bales of barbed wire appeared on the sand,
With a signpost announcing a dastardly plan.
"Penthouse apartments, $9 zillion each,
A park created where once there was a beach.
A crystal casino, as high as a cloud,
P.S.: No children or wildlife allowed.
Meet us this evening at Ballyhoo Hall
To vote for a plan that enriches us all."

But Mira Bella and the grannies quickly come up with their own anti-development Plan B, and when it's time for a vote count, the Mayor announces that the high-rise development has failed to prevail. Ballyhoo Beach is saved for the public, and the sun sets on a joyous scene.

Mira Bella gazed out through surf and the spray.
As the sun set resplendent on Ballyhoo Bay.
"Truth is beauty," she said,
"And they both saved the day."

There are plenty of Earth Day-friendly stories about planting trees and saving endangered animals, but not too many about forestalling the over-development of our endangered unspoiled beaches. For this reason alone, Judy Sierra's Ballyhoo Bay is a useful addition to the elementary environmental reading shelf. Sierra's verse is light and bouncy, if not inspired, but Derek Anderson's inspired comic illustrations make this new picture book an appealing entry for Earth Day story time.

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