What works of art shells are! Little sea creatures build their homes in a wonderful variety of shapes and colors. Eventually many wash up to shore, providing a hands-on lesson in nature’s simple wonders. Seashells by the Seashore, by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Robert Noreika, is a delightful introduction to the fun discovery at the beach.
In simple and predictable rhyming poetry, three children set out to find a collection of shells – counting as they go – but are careful to return one to the sea that still has a live mussel in it. They learn the basic facts about shells, and they also learn to appreciate the little creatures that make such splendid things. After a productive day of discovery, the children proudly present the shells to grandmother on her birthday – a grandmother who herself used to collect shells but can no longer readily comb the beach.
The paperback edition comes with a tear-out shell identification card for easy identification of the 12 common shell varieties featured in the book, plus another dozen shells that might be found.
Author Marianne Berkes, of Hobe Sound, Florida, knows shells from frequent first-hand experience as she walks the beaches and lagoons of the south coast. Berkes is a former children’s librarian – “Miss Marianne”, as the children at the Palm Beach County Library call her. “I saw the need for a fun book about shells for younger children,” she says. “My idea was to make it the kind of book that could be enjoyed by both young and somewhat older children, so I incorporated the counting concept with predictable text. Children can read along as we find each shell, making it an interactive story.” Illustrator Robert Noreika of Avon, Connecticut, lives near the north coast and also loves to go “shelling” with his daughter.