Saving American Beach by Heidi Tyline King

saving american beach by heidi tyline king book coverThis picture book tells the story of MaVynee, who loved going to the beach growing up. But in the days of Jim Crow, she couldn't just go to any beach--most of the beaches in Jacksonville were for whites only. Knowing something must be done, her grandfather bought a beach that African American families could enjoy without being treated as second class citizens and called it American Beach. Artists like Zora Neale Hurston and Ray Charles vacationed there and it was there that MaVynee was first inspired to sing. After the Civil Rights Act desegregated public places, people felt there was no longer a need for a place like American Beach and it slowly fell into disrepair. But MaVynee remembered the importance of American Beach to her family and so many others, and so she determined to preserve this integral piece of American history. 

In addition to King's beautiful storytelling, illustrator Ekua Holmes creates unique and wonderful imagery to complement the story through her blend of texture, color, and layering. As stated in a review from Publisher's Weekly, "King crafts musical prose, skillfully connecting Betsch’s musical career with her love of the beach. Caldecott Honoree Holmes’s art, rendered in acrylic and collage, incorporates patterns created from handmade stencils and stamps, resulting in richly multilayered illustrations. A moving portrayal of a little-known preservationist." All of these things work to make this book a wonderful read for parents and children alike.  

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