A good week last week for Shirley Hughes, announced as the winner of the inaugural Book Trust Lifetime Achievement Award. I now have serious concerns for the load bearing capacity of her mantelpiece but all well deserved in my view.
I am a Shirley Hughes newbie…I don’t remember any of her books from my childhood at all. Perhaps my Mother was vehemently opposed for some reason, I must remember to ask. I must also remember to thank her because it is a special joy approaching them as a shared first experience with LJ.
Why are we reading it? In real life this summer has seen us at the seaside a fair bit and it was for that reason that I purchased Lucy & Tom at the Seaside…I thought LJ would recognise the odd scene or experience. In reality, he recognises more than the odd one and delights in the familiarity of seeing a cricket match played on the beach, or a bucket of seaweed and stones.
Synopsis: The book charts a typical British day trip to a pretty typical British seaside, from packing the picnic to getting the train, right through to ice creams and rockpooling, with whistlestop tours past wasp attacks, paddling, donkey rides and burying one’s parents in sand.
There are many more beach activities included in the book than those I’ve listed and each and every one is simply described and, needless to say, beautifully illustrated. For me there’s a whimsical and nostalgic quality to the illustrations that invites me to step inside them. As it is we pull things out of them. The stones gathered from the rockpool go splish-splash-splosh across LJ’s bedroom every night; and I can vouch that the hot chocolate that Lucy is enjoying at the end is very tasty, if a little hot. (It’s actually icecream, but who I am to correct an emphatic two year old!?)
Any complaints? In the interests of balance and, if I were channelling LJ, I would say yes, there is one complaint. There is no Hoo-ha (hovercraft) anywhere in the book. Thanks to a chance sighting one day a couple of months ago, seaside for LJ = Hoo-ha.
It’s quite hard to find a hoo-ha at the seaside, we have to make special trips to Southsea hovercraft terminal, so whatever LJ thinks, I’m going to let Shirley Hughes off on this point.
Conclusion: Like all LJ’s favourites we are reading our ‘dee-dide’ before every nap and every night-time sleep, every day. Unlike previous reads, however, it’s not getting old and I have a hunch we’ll both like it for quite a while longer yet.
When I was younger certain songs defined summer holidays for my friends and me…some years (like the lazy, hazy days of summer ‘98) can be evoked as new in my memory upon hearing old favourites like Closing Time by Semisonic, or Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits. I have a feeling that Lucy & Tom at the Seaside by Shirley Hughes will be my ‘song’ of Summer 2015 (best summer so far).