Review of Jules vs. the Ocean

Jules vs. the Ocean
by Jessie Sima; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Simon    48 pp.
5/20    978-1-5344-4168-2    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-4169-9    $10.99

Intent on impressing her older sister at the beach, Jules plans to build a big sandcastle. When the waves foil her plans, she assumes “the Ocean” is “out to get her.” There’s much humor, such as in the way Jules defiantly stares down her nemesis, saying, “Not today, Ocean.” Expect giggles when she loses her bucket to the waves, dejectedly collapses on the sand, and determines there’s “no hope.” After her sister comes in from the waves and puts down her boogie board to tell Jules the ocean isn’t her enemy, they work together. Here, the book’s sunny, bright full-bleed spreads are juxtaposed with ones featuring small vignettes of the girls bonding, constructing a splendid sandcastle as a team; this pacing change builds the drama at the story’s close when a massive wave destroys their co-creation. In the triumphant double-page spread that follows, though, they engage in an exuberant high five (after a brief moment of shock), having enjoyed the spectacle of it all. Sound effects are used to dramatic effect, as the ocean waves meet the shore: “SPLASH!” “SLAP!” “CRASH!” The cheerful palette is the star of the show, with its bright pinks (swimsuits, bucket, and beach towels), blues (ocean, sky), and vivid yellows (sun). A funny, felicitous summer read.

From the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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