Looking Closely Along the Shore by Frank Serafini

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Looking Closely Along the ShoreLooking Closely Along the Shore
By Frank Serafini
Kids Can Press; $15.95
40 pp.; ISBN-13: 978-1554531417

Review by Amy Brozio-Andrews

In his clever puzzle-book for young readers, Look Closely Along the Shore, writer and photographer Frank Serafini challenges young readers to really examine the world around them and see the world in a new way. This is the latest installment in the Look Closely series, joining books on the garden, the forest, and the desert.

Each page of close-up photography starts with a small section of the photo that’s centered over a plain black page. On the first page, readers are treated to a small flower pattern. Facing it, the reader is prompted; "What did you see? A flower? A fossil? What could it be?" Turning the page reveals a full-size, full-color photograph of the teaser from the previous page, plus a few paragraphs about what the object is and how it lives. In this example, the first item is a sand dollar. Serafini’s text gives a handful of informative details about where a sand dollar lives, how it moves, and why it looks the way it does.

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From ochre sea stars to lined shore crabs, blue mussels, coconut palm trees, and queen conch shells, Serafini’s selections run the gamut from the familiar to the fantastic. His very tightly focused photography, framed with a peep-hole effect, will easily prompt readers to guess what the big picture looks like. The text provides tantalizing hints of what’s to come on the next page, both plausible and from afar.

Looking Closely Along the Shore pushes children’s imaginations and helps develop an interest in the world around them, a world that they may not notice if they don’t look closely enough. Encouraging creativity with the challenges and fostering interest in science with the well-written text, Serafini’s roots in education (he’s a former teacher) are clear. It’s not often that you find a picture book where the entertainment value is balanced by educational value where both are equally engaging, but Serafini’s Look Closely Along the Shore is just one of those books.

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