Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Yes Virginia (or Maryland, or Carolina), sandy claws do exist

Dogs do it and people don't blink an eye. But picturing a cat enjoying the beach takes a master's leap of imagination, not to mention the exquisite artistry of illustrator Anne Mortimer. And who better to describe the delights awaiting a feline getting her first taste of sandy claws than iconic author of children's classic Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown?

The kitty whose adventure quest mirrors an inquisitive child's first beach experience is Sneakers, who starred in the author's  Sneakers: seven stories about a cat, originally published in 1955, three years following her untimely death at age 42. While several baby boomer reviewers at Goodreads.com miss the original most readers seemed to welcome this updated offering. I concur with the Lexington Herald Leader's accolade, "Kitty pictures so realistic you almost want to pet them," freely admitting to emitting audible "awwwwws" accompanied by an ongoing  desire to snuggle the adorable Sneakers! 

Who could resist tagging along with such a sweet "fat little cat" let loose in a wonderland seemingly designed for the incurably curious?  We're by  Sneakers' side as the tantalizing aromas of fish and sea mingle, enticing him to dip his paw into the chilly water. We feel his eyes widen as he spies a shadow in the sky, hears an assertive "Scree", and encounters the unthinkable, a bird who isn't frightened of him!

 We're with him as he playfully pokes at the mini shrimp popping up elusively in front of him like gophers in a boardwalk arcade game. We're close enough to sense the irresistible pull to put his head up to the magic pink and yellow shell which, though hollow, emits an echo of the ocean's roar!  We listen, entranced, to the mysterious, powerful booming broadcast back to us from sea pounded rocks far off in the distance during our carefree chasing of colorful butterflies, as children might run with kites on the beach. We creep with our kitty friend as he innocently wonders at then touches a mysterious orange object with beady black eyes and ginormous claws, receiving in return an OUCH-inducing life lesson!  Yes, we're beside Sneakers all the way, travelling  back to the forever fresh memory of our own first beach day, our child's, or grandchild's. 

The Denver Free Press suggests packing the book along for a child's first trip to the beach, which is an excellent recommendation. If you do, be prepared for requests from your little ones to have it read to them summer after summer. Word of warning: might also be a good idea to check the children's beach bags for the occasional smuggled furry traveler.

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