A Day for Sandcastles

by Jonarno Lawson (Author) Qin Leng (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

A dazzling wordless picture book celebrates creative problem-solving, teamwork, and the sun-splashed wonder of a day at the beach. The creators of the acclaimed Over the Shop evoke a perfect summer beach day--and themes of creativity, cooperation, flexibility, and persistence--all without a word in this sun-warmed, salt-stained delight of a story.

A busload of beachgoers spills out onto the sand for a day of fun and frolic. Three siblings begin work on a castle, patting and shaping the sand as the sun arcs over the sky. Time and again, their progress is halted: a windswept hat topples their creation; a toddler ambles through it; the tide creeps close, and then too close. Meeting each demolition with fresh determination, the builders outdo themselves time and again, until the moment arrives to pile back into the bus for home.

An authentic portrait of sibling cooperation--and glorious inspiration for creative people of all ages--A Day for Sandcastles channels the thrill of surrendering expectations on the path to infinite possibility.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Lawson and Leng create ample space for the reader to supply the story. . . . A wondrous wordless picture book that will make readers want to grab a sand bucket and head to the beach.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

The team behind Over the Shop offers a wordless story about a long, wonderful day at the seashore. The pink-skinned family of five, first seen aboard a sleek bus, tumble off at a beach stop and hurry toward the water. While the adults pitch an umbrella farther up the beach, the children find some sand mounds near the ocean's edge and begin building. Ignoring one of the adults' advice to move back from the waves, Leng shows the three reinforcing their castle with an ocean-side berm. But the tide is inexorable, and after a windblown hat takes out a turret, a big wave flattens the rest. After lunch, the children begin again, more inland, patiently building until a toddling child, then the creeping tide, topple their creation. They've got the routine down now, though, and by day's end, they've built one that just might last. Leng's long views of the beach toggle between the sweep of sea and sky and an ever-changing community of friendly beachgoers (sharp-eyed readers may spot some friends from Over the Shop), while Lawson creates a portrait of the best kind of childhood learning curve--slow, cooperative, independent, and made with little more than sand and water. Ages 4-8. (May)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Gorgeous ink and watercolor illustrations give a constant sense of movement to this wordless picture book. . . an immersive read. The sibs' emotions—frustrated disappointment to hardened determination to elated triumph—are masterfully conveyed in their body language and dynamic poses. . . an obvious choice in anticipation of a beach visit." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

Jonarno Lawson
JonArno Lawson is an award-winning poet and writer who is the author of many books for children and adults, including Over the Shop, illustrated by Qin Leng. He lives in Toronto with his family.

Qin Leng is a designer and illustrator of books for young people, including Over the Shop by JonArno Lawson. She has received numerous awards for her animated short films and artwork. Qin Leng lives in Toronto with her family.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
May 20, 2022
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books starred, 03/01/22

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