We read Down at the Beach, a short story written by Chieri Uegaki and illustrated by Qin Leng. This short story is found in Chirp Magazine's June 2010 edition. Uegaki is the author of Suki's Kimono (CAN, JP, US), a book which has long been on my wish list, but I am waiting until my kids get a little older to buy it because it is listed as a grade school book. Leng illustrated A Flock of Shoes (CAN, JP, US), which is also on my wish list and I need to get around to buying (where is that money tree anyhow?) since I have heard great things about it.
Down at the Beach is the story of a day with two siblings, Namiko and Shoji, who are spending a day at the beach. Shoji's not a big fan, so Namiko thinks of stories behind the seemingly innocuous objects they find.
We like this story a lot. My kids like the beach setting and the fact that the kids have names similar to those of their classmates. It's only 4 pages but it feels like it could be a whole picture book with only the addition of more pictures.
What I like is that it's a story about a big sibling who is trying to make her little sibling feel better. I love her imagination, and I love that he gets right into it and starts to make up his own story about a pirate map. This is really topical because there was a girl from a school near here who has just retrieved the message she put in a bottle which washed up in Hawaii (how much do I not love that school message which causes pollution!) and so my kids are totally into messages in bottles now. I like that most of the vocabulary is perfect for younger kids, but there are a few that younger kids most likely don't know, like ragged and barnacle, which are introduced in context so this is a great vocabulary learning exercise.
I don't know if you can get your hands on this back issue, but all Chirp magazines have short stories you can read with or to your kids. Or just enjoy for yourself!