Come Fly With Me! Gretchen Over the Beach by R. W. Alley
ONE BEACH DAY, GRETCHEN'S BROTHERS AND SISTER RUSHED DOWN TO THE WATER.
GRETCHEN CRIED, "WAIT UP!"
BUT NO ONE LISTENED.
Annabelle, Clark, and Mitchell shuck their shirts and with flippers, surf board, and dinosaur floatie, they hit the surf.
Little Gretchen trails behind, burdened by her flip-flops, beach towel, and a sand bucket with a busted handle that dumps her four roly-polys into the sand. No one listens to her plea for help her taking her roly-polys down to the water.
Well, phooey on them! Gretchen plops down by a tidal pool and starts to mold a sand castle when something amazing happens!
GRETCHEN'S SPORTY NEW HAT WITH THE FANCY RIBBON FLEW AWAY WITH THE BREEZE.
But Gretchen manages to grab the trailing ribbon and her roly-polys follow suit. Scrambling inside the hat, they float higher and higher. Gretchen orders the breeze to lift them to the clouds.
Gretchen goes for a dip in the wispy clouds until she drifts to a small island cloud. But alas, the hat with the four roly-polys sails on and on into a cloud, the ribbon still wafting behind. Thinking fast, Gretchen hails a passing seagull and surfs on his back toward her missing hat, using it as a parachute to float her and the rolys safely down to the scene of her sand castle, just as her siblings stagger out of the surf to the umbrella where dad is unpacking snacks. Oblivious of her airborne adventures, big brother Clark chastises her for losing her fancy ribbon from the hat.
SHE WASN'T EVEN WORRIED ABOUT HER RIBBON.
And why should she be, when overhead there's a helpful seagull doing a flyover to return the ribbon, in R. W. Alley's Gretchen Over the Beach (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2016). Big brothers and sisters sometimes leave their youngest sibling behind, but the resourceful Gretchen has the best adventure of all in this sunny story of the power of fanciful thinking.
Part of a set of four forthcoming seaside stories, this one stars a resilient little heroine who imagines a way to catch a wave without hitting the water. Alley's artwork is altogether endearing, with ink-and-watercolor illustrations in watery pastel palette, set clearly somewhere on the northeastern coast, as evidenced by the weathered pink frame beach house, stone walls, and fir trees in the landscape fronting the yellow-brown sands. Only the faces and stick arms and legs of the roly-polys reveal that Gretchen has a mind of her own, a girl for whom a day at the beach has a little something extra.