[Published by Duck Creek Press]
Beach holidays were an essential part of my summer holidays as a child, and this beautiful New Zealand picture book sent me on a merrily nostalgic journey.
Leyla visits her aunt’s beach house every summer. She loves everything about her time there, from being able to run around like a wild thing, to falling asleep to the hiss and crash of the waves.
But one night she hears her aunt say something terrible, “I’m going to sell the place,” Auntie Ellie said. “The city’s moving too close. I need to find somewhere else.”
It feels like the worst thing in the world to Leyla. She tries really hard to follow her mother’s advice and not make her final memories sad ones, but on the last night she just wants to leave. The moon draws them down to the beach where the beauty of the place heals the hurt. “Suddenly Leyla’s heart felt as light and bubbly as foam.”
The final page shows us that change can be okay. The illustrations, particularly the night-scenes are magical, and the language bursts with all sorts of lovely features, like “sucking sand” and “scrunchy, crunchy shells.”
The exploration of loss and change is gentle and reassuring. A wonderful book to share in the classroom.
[No longer available at Auckland Libraries of Fishpond! You’ll have to use some tracking down skills for this one.]
2 thoughts on “Aunt Ellie’s beach house by Raewyn Caisley; illustrated by Lisa Allen (2014)”
It is a lovely story and, while New Zealand based, the theme is universal. Lisa Allen’s illustrations are beautifully in tune with the essence of this. Congratulations to author and illustrator for bringing this together in a sensitive and captivating way.
I agree, there are some lovely New Zealand details, but the story will appeal to families everywhere.