• Happy birthday X. J. Kennedy (Talking Like the Rain, Elefantina’s Dream), Arthur Yorinks (Hey, Al), and Claudia Mills (Gus and Grandpa series, Being Teddy Roosevelt).
  • It’s the birth date of Christopher Robin Milne (1920-1996), inspiration for his father, author A. A. Milne’s, Winnie-the-Pooh stories.
  • In 1770, Captain James Cook claims eastern Australia for Great Britain, naming it New South Wales. Read Riding the Black Cockatoo by Jack Danalis and Bittangabee Tribe: An Aboriginal Story from Coastal New South Wales by Beryl Cruse.
  • In 1911, The Mona Lisa, a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci was stolen by a Louvre employee. Read Who Stole the Mona Lisa? by Ruthie Knapp, illustrated by Jill McElmurry.
  • Happy birthday Hawaii, the 50th state of the Union as of 1959. Hence, it’s Hawaii Admission Day. Read High Tide in Hawaii by Mary Pope Osborne and Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale from Hawai’i by Gerald McDermott.

August has been designated National Beach Month and during this time people are encouraged to make one more trip to their local beach and enjoy the scenery and warm weather before it vanishes. As a landlocked child in Indiana, I envied people their ocean beaches—although we did have beautiful sand dunes bordering Lake Michigan.

If you have small children ages two through eight and you want to take them on a beach trip, two recent picture books that are destined to become classics make wonderful beach companions. New England artist Stephen Huneck died last year. For anyone who loves canine companions, Huneck was the patron saint of dogs. He even built a chapel dedicated to them. He fashioned mesmerizing wood sculptures of different breeds, and he wrote and illustrated several picture books starring his black Labrador retriever Sally. In Sally Goes to the Beach, readers view a perfect beach trip through the eyes of a dog. Although people accompany her, Sally only thinks about other dogs. When they board the Island Ferry, Sally doesn’t see a line of cars but a line of black and yellow labs. A seagull and a whale greet Sally as she heads to the island; there she finds a beach, a boat ride, and sand to dig. As she says at the end, “I cannot wait until tomorrow.”

The bold woodcuts of Sally contain a lot of humor and exude the pure, simple joy of living. At one time in my life, before I was able to get a dog, I used to walk the beach with an imaginary one. If you find yourself in this predicament, you should definitely have a permanent copy of Sally Goes to the Beach in your library.

Huy Voun Lee’s At the Beach provides a multilingual beach party. Xiao Ming is learning to write Chinese. Because many Chinese characters are like pictures, his mother draws pictures in the sand on their day at the beach, describing the sites they see. By the end of the story both Xiao Ming and the reader have learned several Chinese words and gained an understanding of how this picture language works. A glossary at the end provides an easy reference for what has been covered. A perfect learning exercise, At the Beach has been illustrated using cut-paper collages with stunning boarders. This unusual picture book inspires children to gain some knowledge while they enjoy beach time.

So, wherever you live, landlocked or otherwise, I hope you get to plan one more trip to the beach this summer. I myself am heading out to walk my real dogs, Lady and Lance, along the beach as we pay tribute to Stephen Huneck and Sally.

Here’s a page from Sally Goes to the Beach:


Originally posted August 21, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Asian American, Dogs, Family, Multicultural, Seasons, Summer
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Sally Goes to the Beach


  1. G.Perry says:

    I love dogs and I love beaches, so I’ll be reading this book even though I am still cleaning the drool off from that lovable slobber-mouth Hound Penderwick.

    A physician I know at Mayo writes frequently on stress and how best to handle it. One of his suggestions is to have animals in your life. This doctor-Dolittle has dogs, cats, ducks, geese, birds, and I don’t know what else around his place, and he loves it.

    Wanna go for a walk?

  2. Jessica says:

    This artwork is beautiful! I will definitely have to check out this book!

  3. Carla says:

    What timing! My daughter and I just made one last beach trip this weekend, where we enjoyed watching Henry, our favorite big, goofy Labrador (who belongs to my brother and his family) run in circles on the beach and plunge into the surf to retrieve balls over and over again. Another favorite dog-beach combination from my childhood is ‘Harry the Dirty Dog,’ which my daughter loved as well.

    Today’s beach book, ‘Bats on the Beach’ is on display in our sunroom book-art ‘gallery’ now; it’s one of our summer works of book art. (In a couple of months, Tony DiTerlizzi’s ‘Spider and the Fly’ will rotate in …)

    Thanks as always.

  4. melanielee says:

    Oh how wonderful, through the eyes of a dog :-) beautiful illustration.

  5. Kelly Urie says:

    All of his books are entertaining, but nothing is better than visiting the galllery and dog chapel in St. Johnsbury, Vermont; a beautiful adventure in any season, especially fall. Don’t forget your dogs, they’ll enjoy the ponds, the trails, the gallery and the chapel. This is truly a “must see” for any dog or any dog lover!

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