Picture Books

Be it the taste of sand in sandwiches or a blown-away beach ball, our most evocative childhood memories are likely to be of holidays spent by the sea – and it is the picture books that capture both the child’s enchantment and the adult’s nostalgia that are among our most treasured. The Wide, Wide Sea by Anna Wilson (out now, Nosy Crow, £6.99) is the lyrical story of a child who visits the seaside with her grandmother, and discovers the wonders of the ocean through her imaginative relationship with a seal. (“‘This is the best place in Whole Wide World!’ I shout. ‘Slow down!’ Gran laughs. But I can’t.”) With stunning illustrations by Jenny Lovlie, the story also sounds a gentle warning about the environment.

You Can’t Take an Elephant on Holiday by Patricia Cleveland-Peck (out now, Bloomsbury, £12.99), is a joyfully anarchic story about animals making mayhem on a family trip: “You can’t take an elephant on holiday…/ He’d spoil your fun and get in the way./ You’d see him shove to the front of the queue,/ eat ALL the ice-cream and leave none for you!”

Nen and the Lonely Fisherman by Ian Eagleton (out now, Owlet Press, £7.99), meanwhile, is the touching story of a merman who ventures above the sea and meets a solitary fisherman. When a ferocious storm gathers, this unlikely friendship will be put to its ultimate test.

In a story that will resonate with many a parent, The Sea by Piret Raud (out Sept 16, Thames & Hudson, £9.99) depicts the sea as a conscientious, exhausted mother to her huge brood of mischievous fish. (“The sea taught all her fish how to read… And she talked at length about how good it was for them to be educated fish.”) But when Mother Sea reaches the end of her tether, and goes away without them, the fish must rethink their ways.

And for the child holidaying at home, Somewhere by Jeanne Willis (out now, Nosy Crow, £12.99) is the enchanting story of a little boy who discovers a land called Nowhere at the bottom of his garden where he can build magic castles, and sail in pirate ships – and there are no grown ups telling him what to do. But when Nowhere starts to feel lonely, Oscar longs for Somewhere more like home.

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