The DFF Book Club

Magic Beach by Alison Lester

Magic Beach (available from Amazon and the Book Depository) is my favourite of all Alison Lester’s books. Australian author and illustrator Lester rocketed up the local book charts in 2005 when her book about travelling around Australia Are we there yet? was named as the Children Book Council’s book of the year.

In Magic Beach, Lester’s realistic illustrations and rhyming verse transport us to the beach where each day’s activity unleashes great adventure. She has a wonderful way of depicting childhood imagination, and your children will relate to the characters, the beach-side activities and the pretend-play.

Have a look:

Magic Beach by Alison Lester
At our beach, at our magic beach, we play in the sand for hours, digging and building with buckets and spades, invincible castles and towers.

The scene above is then rendered in imagination:

Magic Beach by Alison Lester
The king and queen are trapped in the moat, a dragon is spitting out flames. Princess Belinda is charging the beast to rescue little Prince James.

And:

Magic Beach by Alison Lester
At our beach, at our magic beach, we search in the clear, warm pools, peering at starfish, limpets and crabs, and tiny fish darting in schools.

Becomes:

Magic Beach by Alison Lester
Into the Kingdom of Fishes we go, riding on sea-dragon tails. Angelfish ferry a cargo of pearls past creeping convoys of snails.

It’s probably a legacy of too many Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Enid Blyton mysteries, but I love how Lester translates the bonfire on the beach at nighttime:

Magic Beach by Alison Lester
A beacon is signalling up on the cliff, an answer blinks back from the bay. Smugglers are hauling in crate-loads of rum, then silently stealing away.

Magic Beach is a fabulous book, with lots to look at in each double-page-spread illustration, and much to discuss in the portrayal of fantasy. In fact, you can’t go wrong with any Alison Lester titles. Look for them in the library (if you’re in Australia) or buy them online. They’re keepers.