5 Books That Make a Splash

Rafts and whale-watching, swimming holes and setting out to sea—water seems to offer endless opportunities to children, whether they’re fishing from the bathtub or doing cannonballs off a dock. So if your kids love being in or on water—as swimmers, mermaids, or pirates—here are five books worth diving into.

The Specific Ocean by Kyo Maclear, art by Katty Maurey
Summer break arrives and a girl and her family are off to the coast to be by the Pacific (or “Specific,” in her words). By the end of the trip, she’s grown close to the ocean and doesn’t want to leave. Her mother loves a mountain in Japan, and her father the hills in England; she wants this ocean to be hers, but how can she take it with her? A gentle and smart read about how the natural world becomes a part of us, The Specific Ocean will win over adults and school-aged children alike. Most notably, it is incredibly well written and avoids the gimmicks so often found in children’s books.

Pool by JiHyeon Lee
This wordless book is beautifully illustrated and brimming with potential narratives. The story begins with an empty pool that becomes busy only moments after a child arrives alone. He dives under the rowdy pool-goers, and swims until he meets a friend—another solo swimmer below the crowds. The pair escape to the bottom of the ocean (which the pool has become to them), full of fish, plants, and other creatures. Suitable for all-ages, Pool is a delight to make up the words to. The adventures within in some ways mimic the instant friendships so many kids find at pools and beaches in real life.

Don’t Splash the Sasquatch! by Kent Redeker, art by Bob Staake
A new book from the duo behind Don’t Squish the Sasquatch, this one is a cute and quirky read for the preschool set. As the title hints, the eponymous Sasquatch does not want to get wet; he wants to sit near the pool and stay dry. His friends, Miss Elephant Shark, Mr. Octo-Rhino, Miss Goat-Whale, and Miss Loch-Ness-Monster-Space-Alien all feel bad when they do splash their grumpy sasquatch pal, but all is well in the end: fur, friendships, et al.

Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure
In her signature style, Nikki McClure’s new book examines the relationship between humans and the natural world—this time, through the life forms in and by the sea. Have you ever noticed how animals behave similarly to people? In this story, they both wade, collect, eat, and construct, as the water creeps up. A boy and his family build a raft, and he examines barnacles, seabirds, and seaweed in their natural environment. Like him, this is a quiet book for the adventurous, the meticulous, the patient, the rebellious and the curious at heart.

Under the Ocean by Anouck Boisrobert & Louis Rigaud
If you’ve ever seen a pop-up book as sophisticated as this one, chances are it was another Anouck Boisrobert & Louis Rigaud collaboration. Extremely detailed illustrations are cut out, depicting what happens when a sailboat embarks on a journey. Sometimes all is calm above the water, but below is more bustling. Other times, the scene underwater is less involved, but waves rock the boat above. Under the Ocean is a creative offering that allows us to rethink book design. Like any curious adventurer, it begs the question: “What’s happening where we’re not looking?”