Sunday, August 18, 2019

Beach Buddy! Waiting for Chicken Smith by David Mackintosh

"HEY, LOOK!" my sister calls.

But I'm waiting for Chicken Smith.
He should be here soon.

The boy is has arrived at the beach cabin where he goes every summer and where his friend Chicken Smith always comes, with his rusty bike, his dog Jelly, and his binoculars to use to watch for whales from the base of the lighthouse.

But the boy has waited for several days and Chicken Smith has not come. Summer at the shore is not the same without his beach buddy.

Besides, Chicken Smith is cool. Together they swim far out, holding onto his dad's surfboard, and collect driftwood and special shells along the water line. Chicken Smith can kick a tennis ball all the way to the edge of the sea, and his dog Jelly will fetch it every single time. He can ride his old bike with no brakes everywhere, and every day, as the sun sinks low over the sea, they go to the lighthouse to watch with his binoculars for a whale to breach on the horizon. The boy has bought a special shell to give to Chicken Smith when he comes.

But Chicken Smith's cabin is still vacant, and there is a sign on the door,

Inquire at shop.

What is taking Chicken Smith so long anyway?
We're missing out on everything.

"JUST HURRY UP!" his sister yells, running off down the beach.

What is she yelling about? The boy follows her down the beach and up to the lighthouse. He sees something he's never seen before.

It's a whale! He never saw one with Chicken Smith. But thanks to his sister, he sees the WHALE! With her.

Named for the character who never appears and through his absence changes the story, David Mackintosh's Waiting for Chicken Smith (Candlewick Press, 2019 [Am. ed]) deals with the truth that things always change, even the most beloved things, and people go on in new ways. Like the actors in "Waiting for Godot," the boy remains stuck waiting for his usual beach buddy to arrive and make things happen. But unlike those hapless characters, the boy's sister helps him move on to a wonderful new experience. Together they bond as they spot the long-awaited whale, plan a shell hunt for the next morning, and their relationship is changed forever. A sister can be a friend, too, one hopes, for life. To this understated but powerful story, author-illustrator David Macintosh adds wonderful scratchy illustrations that capture the rustic cabins and palm trees, flotsam and jetsam at the waterline, and the wondrous whale in perfect blues and soft browns of the beach. "Mackintosh’s text perfectly captures the timelessness of childhood summer," Kirkus Reviews says.

Labels: , , ,