Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sleepy Beach by Scott Harpole

Title: Sleepy Beach
Author: Scott Harpole (no website found)
Publisher: Amazon
Rating: WARTY!

Illustrated by Jill Reed

This is a short, illustrated young children’s story about a family trip to camp on a beach. I was not really very thrilled with this one. I don’t apply the same rigorous criteria to children’s books that I do to adult books, but I do expect a decent story, or a whole lot of fun, and preferably some educational content, but this one just left me with a whiskey tango foxtrot kind of feeling. I got the impression that the author was simply describing a day he and his family spent at the beach which would have been fine, but I could not figure out where he was going with it and it all seemed to fizzle into nothing, like the sea sinking into the sand as the wave rolls back out.

The art work was okay, but rather tame. I had thought that the idea was to take this somewhere because there were hints of a face showing up throughout this story, but it never turned into anything. We started with the face on the cover, which was one of the kids going on the trip, and then the first image we get looks like a reference back to the cover image – it looks like the top of someone’s head, with the grass and trees making the hair, and something on the beach (which was the forehead) which looked like eyebrows. That’s where the image cut off, so I wondered if the story was going to end up building a face, but it never did.

The very next image is like we’re looking down on the top of someone’s head, with the bushes making the hair and the sand making a forehead again, and this time there was a small island just off the coast making a nose. Shortly after this we get a large eye reflecting activity in the water, and I tried to fit this into the facial imagery, but it never worked. Yet later still we get the family sleeping on the beach on oddly-shaped sleeping bags which looked, the way they were arranged, like lower eyelashes, but that went nowhere either.

It was like both the story-teller and the artist started out with a bright idea, but then ran out of ideas when it came to figuring out where to take it and how to end it. I know that feeling. All writers have no doubt been there, but they haven’t done that! Getting stuck in the sand doesn’t mean we say “Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead with the publishing!” No we figure out how to make that boat float; then we damn the torpedoes! This story just didn’t do it. It was flat and dull, like nothing interesting was going on, and I can’t recommend it.