Book Reviews - The Rhythm of the Beach

Mary Lanni, US KidLit Book Reviewer & Librarian

When one slows down enough to notice, the natural patterns of life are palpable. On one sandy Australian beach, spring marks the return of the hooded plover from its winter home. The eggs that are laid among the shells hatch, revealing infant hooded plovers who relish the summer sun. Beside humans, dolphins, and other seaside visitors, these birds grow and ultimately migrate with their families to wait out the winter months. As the cold and storms wash over the beach, time slows and rests in anticipation of the coming spring.

This poetic picture book is layered with beautiful descriptions of nature in the seaside home of the hooded plover. Short stanzas are shown on each page, incorporating lovely imagery within the carefully selected phrasing. Accessible even to young children, this presentation introduces readers to poetry and nature simultaneously as each page unfolds. Even older readers will recognize the reminder to slow down and observe nature in the moment, appreciating the beauty in the natural progression of time.
Each page pairs a stanza with an accompanying illustration, which is often abstract in appearance. While the scene is comprehensible, the lines used to make it are a blend of blurry and clearer elements. The hooded plovers are more detailed, but their surroundings, the people, and the beach are less so. This approach guides readers to focus on certain parts of the story while supporting the poetic language through visuals. 
At the end of the book, readers will find two additional poems that are devoid of illustrations but focus even more on taking time to find the beauty in nature. Additionally, a reminder is included to give readers the permission to step back and determine who they truly are and what is important to them, even if there is no immediate answer. With a lovely message about the environment and its natural rhythm, this is an enjoyable story for elementary school-aged readers.

Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review - click HERE or read below.

The Rhythm of the Beach provides picture book readers with a celebration of the seasonal changes of a beach, from Spring's herald of the hooded plovers that "return from far away winter homes" to summertime, when "Terns dive like jet fighters, feasting on the bait balls of small fish."

 

The plovers cement the beach's rhythms as Russell Irving follows their changes, from arrival to nest-building, rearing young, and coming full circle; but a host of other changes take place on the beach and are included in this story.

 

More than just a natural history of the beach, Russell's book provides kids with observations that encourage them to appreciate how the beach environment changes with the seasons. 

 

Even more importantly, it advocates linking this sense of rhythm and purpose to a more mindful approach to experiencing nature: "Take rambling walks in nature with no outcome in mind. Find time and rituals to observe your daily and seasonal rhythm."

 

The result goes beyond the usual focus to introduce kids to life rhythms and how their own choices and experiences intersect with and affect the environment.

 

Adults who want youngsters to feel more connected to and engaged with this world will find The Rhythm of the Beach's simple nature drawings and its survey of selected beach creatures recreates that rhythm in print and art for picture book audiences. This lends to a bigger picture than is usually presented to the young

David Brooks, Ecologist

So beautiful in every way - The Rhythm of the Beach resonates with a gentle truth and awakening. I am drawn to read it each morning and feel a calm that lingers throughout the day. A good read for all ages and generations.