May 28, 2015

See You Next Year

by Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by Todd Stewart
Owlkids Books
978-1-926973-99-9
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
March 2015

I'll bet lots of families are already thinking about their summer plans, and many already know where and when they’ll be vacationing because it’s become an annual ritual.  It’s a ritual embedded in a known car trip, a familiar cottage à la motel, and a proverbial beach.
We’ve been coming to the same place every summer since I was little.
Nothing changes.
That’s why I like it. 
(pg. 8)
In See You Next Year, the intimacy of the location is only surpassed by the familiarity of the activities.  The very people may change from year to year but the sand-raking tractor, the umbrella-toting visitors, the evening concert at the gazebo bandstand and the beach bonfire are all the same.  However, a new friend,  not unexpected, adds some new milestones to the young girl’s summer.

The rhythm of Andrew Larsen’s text will easily transport older readers to summer holidays as children: the lapping of the waves on the beach, the pattern of the sea of umbrellas , the patter of that inevitable day of rain, the routine of waking, swimming, playing, staying up late and sleeping in.

And Todd Stewart, for whom this is his first picture book, captures the essence of those summer holidays with family in his retro art and minimal palette.  In illustrations in which he could have emphasized a myriad of colours across bathing suits, umbrellas, and blistering heat, Todd Stewart chooses eloquently to underscore the turquoise of the water, the sandy golds of the beach, the midnight blue of a clear sky, or the taupes of a rainy day inside.  It works so well.

I suspect Andrew Larsen may be recreating his own memories or sharing those of his own children.  Either way, summer will seem very familiar and too far in the future until it’s already gone, and a postcard and warm memories are all that are left.  Until next year.

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