Title: Sandcastle
Written and illustrated by Philip Bunting
Published by Allen and Unwin
RRP: $24.99 (AUD)

Rae is at the beach building a sandcastle with Grandad. It is going to be magnificent, and after they build the first “very tall tower” they progress with other sections. All the while, however, a crab is on the right hand side of the double pages spreads watching the tide come in. As the castle is reclaimed by the sea, Grandad assures Rae all is not lost in a touching way.

I love picturebooks for younger readers where the visual text adds an important element to the narrative not mentioned in the verbal text. This metafictional device is so much fun when reading aloud as it encourages participation and makes the young audience think they are in charge of the storytelling. That is exactly what this book does. The verbal text does not mention the crab as a crab, nor does it refer to the encroaching tide from the right hand side of the double page spread. With the viewer positioned at a front angle for the duration of the book, all is visible during the course of the afternoon as the sun moves towards the horizon.

This is a beautiful book in many ways. The tactile hard cover turns to show patterned endpapers, in the same pattern used throughout for the sand. The large format is perfect for reading aloud to a group or sharing for a lap read. The use of colour is gorgeous as time and tide progress together, and Grandad’s explanation of where the sandcastle has gone is perfect.

Teaching tips are available for download here. (PDF Download)

Many thanks to Allen and Unwin for supplying this book for review.