Going to the Beach
    by John Cech

All the kids are heading for the beach on "Fun in the Sun" -- the latest installment from Snoopy's Klassics on Toys -- which has given us cd's of classical, country, jazz, and Beatles' songs played by a group of Canadian virtuosoes on toy instruments, and joined this time by a trio of spirited child singers who are clearly having a ball with this music. There are some great summer tunes here, like "Wipe Out," "Beach Party," and "Jamaica Farewell" that have become theme songs for crashing waves, salty air, and balmy, moon-lit nights. It's a delicious surprise to hear them done this way -- like hotdogs and marshmallows cooked over a bonfire.

But if it's raining and your young beach-combers are stuck inside, you might want to have handy Elizabeth van Steenwyk's new book, Let's Go to the Beach: A History of Sun and Fun by the Sea for elementary and middle school readers. It's full of fascinating beach lore, from the ancient Egyptians, to the discovery of the shore as a place for medicinal cures in the late 1700s, when one Dr. Richard Russell learned that people felt immeasurably better after they were pulled out of the salt water that he prescribed for them to be plunged into. There are sections about the rise of ocean-side resorts and amusement parks, about life saving, types of sand and sand castle construction, the evolution of the swim suit, and, of course, the saga of the surfboard -- that tricky vehicle of magic to ride into the sunset.

Copyright 2001 by John Cech

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July 2001
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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for the Study of Children's Literature and Media and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."