Until We Meet Again.... See You Next Year by Andrew Larson
EVERY YEAR WE TAKE THE SAME ROADS.
WE ARRIVE AT THE SAME BEACH.
WE STAY AT THE SAME PLACE.
And that's the way beach lovers like it. The little beach town is the same, with its retro two-story motel overlooking a wide beach, dotted daily with big bright umbrellas and and happy beachgoers swimming, playing, sunning, and reading in the shade. Seagulls soar and scream overhead, and beyond the waves, the sea stretches on forever, as it always does.
It's a child's paradise, the stuff of lifelong memories.
But this year there is something different.
This year she finds a friend.
HE SHOWED ME HOW TO HOLD MY NOSE AND DIVE UNDER THE WAVES.
Having a friend makes all the difference. They ride the waves all the way in to the beach They dance and march together to the brass band in the town bandstand. And on a foggy, no-beach day, her friend writes postcards back home and gives her one of his and a stamp to do her own. One day they feel like digging. But before they reach the center of the earth, they reach sea level first, as water rises up in their hole.
On the last night their parents build a fire of driftwood on the beach under the stars and they roast marshmallows.
I'M GOING TO TAKE MY MARSHMALLOW STICK HOME AND SAVE IT FOR NEXT YEAR.
And that's not her only reminder of her week with her friend. There's a postcard waiting ... with just four wonderful words.
SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!
Lucky is the child (and grownup) who has such memories, and Andrew Larson's See You Next Year (Owlkids Books, 2015) nostalgically evokes the feelings of a week at the beach--the long anticipatory drive through familiar towns, the thrill of seeing the ocean again, unchanged and waiting, the mix of joy at familiar sights and activities and the touch of sadness as the precious days pass all too quickly.
Author Larson captures this memorable experience in a narrative of exquisitely chosen words, while Todd Stewart's illustrations feature the individualized children against an atmospheric blend of abstract beach grass, waves, and seaside skies through day and night in a lovely ocean palette of blues and greens. A hopeful promise to children who haven't spent time at the seaside and an emotional remembrance for the adults who share this book with them, this is a simple yet sophisticated encapsulation of experience within the pages of a small book.