Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

A landlocked trip to the seaside

Posted on | July 7, 2011 | 4 Comments

What with the turning of the calendar to July and the activity books I’ve been researching, Summer is definitely in the air. And nothing sings summertime more than a trip to the seaside!

Today’s books is perfect for anyone, adult or child, dreaming of a day on the beach. Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey, the latest book (published today!) from Mini Grey, follows the adventures of superhero Traction Man and his fearless, loyal sidekick, Scrubbing Brush.

Traction Man, the favourite toy of a young boy, is taken on holiday to the seaside where a series of perilous adventures befall him; he is swept out to sea, then washed up in a dank cave, found by another child on the beach, and nearly lost in a tremendous earthquake when the sandcastle he is inhabiting is enthusiastically attacked by a dog.

This story will thrill any child who brings their toys to life and creates adventures, journeys and real-life personas for them. Like the two earlier Traction Man stories (Traction Man is Here and Traction Man Meets Turbodog), this too is pacey, creating just the right amount of manageable anxiety that dissolves in wonderful relief with the resolution of the story. It’s packed with humour and provides parents with plenty of perfect opportunities for silly voices and even singing theme music from thrillers should they really get into the swing of it (I like to read it to my kids with a Sean Connery-esque accent!)

Image reproduced with permission. Inside spread of Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey. Click for large scale image.

Appropriately enough, some of the illustrations recall Marvel comics. They’re eyecatching and reward repeated readings for all the added details tucked away in them. If you’re looking for a superhero story that’s got all the action, excitement and adventure you could possibly want, but without any violence or malevolence, the Traction Man stories are for you. Particularly loved by the boys I’ve been reading to in the year 1 classes at M’s school, the girls too have been asking each week for another Traction Man story.

Those who already love Traction Man will not be disappointed with this new story (let’s hope there are more in the future!), whilst those who are new to the delights of this superhero and his sidekick will be able to adore this book in its own right, before (I’m confident) wanting to track down the two earlier stories.

Now, where we live is just about the furthest you can get from the seaside in the UK, so a trip to the beach isn’t straightforward. But if we can’t go to the beach, what we can do is bring the beach to us! On recent sunny afternoon we began by rockpooling…

We stopped for an icecream….

We enjoyed jumping in the waves…

And of course we made sandcastles which were visited by Traction Man and Scrubbing Brush

Our day at the seaside ended with us eating chips out of newspaper!

The only thing I missed was the sound of the seagulls :-(

Some great seaside music for kids includes:

  • Barefoot Beach by The Hollow Trees
  • Beach, Beach, Sandy Beach by The Wiggles (forgive me!)
  • Beach Song by Dog On Fleas
  • I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside played on the organ – can’t you just picture the big carousel going round and round?
  • Surfin’ U.S.A. by The Beach Boys – pretty much the ultimate beach music, and the kids love to dance to it!


  • Some fun activities which could work well alongside Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey include:

  • Setting up an indoor sandpit. I got the idea from Beelieve and now we have an old deep baking tray full of sand which we keep on top of a kitchen cupboard to be produced when we need a quick and easy playtime.
  • Creating some beach art – Artful Adventures has some ideas to get you going!
  • Try eating seaweed (Nori – dried seaweed sheets – is often available in supermarkets, whilst healthfood stores or specialist ethnic food shops may offer other varieties) or take the kids to a fish market.

  • What’s your favourite thing about going to the beach? Do your kids have a favourite beach time book?

    Thanks go to Random House, the publishers of this brilliant book, for supplying me with a review copy. This review, however, reflects my own and honest opinion.

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    Comments

    4 Responses to “A landlocked trip to the seaside”

    1. Library Mice
      July 7th, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

      I so want a Scrubbing Brush like that … a chips wrapped in a Guardian newspaper! Can I come live in your house? :0)
      Great review!

    2. Zoe
      July 7th, 2011 @ 6:54 pm

      Oh Library Mice, you’re welcome here any time! Scrubbing Brush cost us all of £1.25 at a local hardware store. He is already much loved (and won’t be doing any floor scrubbing!)

    3. Andi
      July 8th, 2011 @ 2:39 am

      I think your backyard beach is brilliant!
      We were just at the beach this evening. We are opposite to you in that when thinking about getting to the beach, our only question is “which one?” for there are many – river and ocean – a very short distance from here. And for the true beach experience, “dulse,” our local seaweed, is in season now and available just about everywhere (although I have never developed a taste for it!) As for books, “East to the Sea” by Heidi Jardine Stoddart was written by a local author who as a child visited here in the summer, and the book is about those childhood summers spent by the sea.
      Andi recently posted..Garden Harvest Cooking – Creamy Yogurt Salad Dressing

    4. Kathy
      July 8th, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

      We love Alison Lester’s Magic Beach around here ;-)
      Kathy recently posted..Things I Know

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