“Sandy Feet! Whose Feet? Footprints at the Shore,” by Susan Wood, illustrated by Steliyana Doneva, 2019, Sleeping Bear Press, 32 pages, $16.99
The sand feels funny, squishing between your toes.
It sticks to the bottom of your feet, the bottom of your hands, the bottom of your swimsuit, and it’s fun to leave footprints in it, so you can see where you’ve been. It’s always a good day when you’re at the beach, but in “Sandy Feet! Whose Feet?,” by Susan Wood, illustrated by Steliyana Doneva, who else is there with you?
It’s sunny, the water’s warm, and yay. You’re at the beach. The waves are perfect for splashing and the sand is wet in some places and dry in others. Who could resist making all kinds of footprints?
Not the dog, whose fat, furry paws make footprints in the sand. You can see his toe-marks and his claw prints as he runs around and splashes.
A sandpiper is a bird that lives at the beach and he runs back and forth on his quick little legs. He jumps and skips and you can see his toes in the sand, too, but they’re very small. The sandpiper’s footprints are from little bird feet.
The seagull, another bird, also leaves footprints on the sand.
If you watch over the water, you might see a pelican, as he dives for dinner. He’s a hungry guy, ready for a few fishy snacks.
Over there, right at the edge of shore, you can see a footprint that looks like someone dragged their feet. That’s the print of the crab, who “scuttles on its way” back to the water. Watch out for his claws. The footprints that look a little like a star are from a starfish who doesn’t want to be caught — and that other shuffle-mark is a turtle who might be ready to make her nest. Baby turtles are the cutest.
Pretty soon, it’s the end of the day and almost time to go home — but wait. Look at those long prints with five little round toes. Who do you think made those footprints in the sand?
The towels, toys, swimsuits and sunscreen are all piled up and ready to go. So are the children; they’re so excited, they can barely sleep and “Sandy Feet! Whose Feet” is the perfect pre-vacation, before-bedtime treat.
Inside this book, Wood offers a simple rhyme that’s short on words and light on action, and illustrator Steliyana Doneva matches the tone with muted colors in her drawings. That means a quieter, more relaxing story for your little beachcomber, but it’s one they’ll remember as soon as they hit the sand.
Wood’s tale gives children something to do while it imparts a different sort of lesson: they’re subtly challenged here to look for marks in the sand made by the beach’s wildlife. More importantly, the children inside this book are respectful of the water and are shown having fun and being safe.
For 4- to 8-year-olds, that’s just-right, and “Sandy Feet! Whose Feet?” may help parents make memories. If you’re heading to the beach for what’s left of summer, step out and get it.