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Children's Fiction Siblings

A Day for Sandcastles

by (author) JonArno Lawson

illustrated by Qin Leng

Candlewick Press
Initial publish date
May 2022
Siblings, Imagination & Play, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: p to 3


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.

About the authors

Born in Hamilton, Ontario and raised nearby in Dundas, JonArno Lawson's most formative experiences as a child occurred in Florida which he visited for an extended stay at the age of eight. Happy to be missing almost an entire year of school, he filled his days at the beach digging holes and collecting shells and coconuts, travelling in glass-bottomed boats and touring nature parks that featured free-roaming monkeys and parrots. He wore a ship captain's hat at all times, and a green pouch in which he kept dozens of ticket stubs, a musket ball, brass souvenir coins that bore the faces of various American presidents, and other treasures which he hoards to this day. JonArno is a two-time winner of the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Children's Poetry, for Black Stars in a White Night Sky in 2007 and again in 2009 for A Voweller's Bestiary. In 2011 his poetry collection Think Again was short-listed for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award. JonArno lives in Toronto with his wife Amy Freedman and his children Sophie, Ashey and Joseph, all of whom assist the author with phrases, topics and sometimes even complete lines for use in his poems.

JonArno Lawson's profile page

Qin Leng was born in Shanghai, China. At the age of five, she moved with her family to Bordeaux, France, where she spent the next four years. Soon after, she moved to Montreal, where she spent the rest of her childhood. Having been born in Asia but raised in the West, she uses both cultures as her source of inspiration. Looking at her illustrations, one can see the presence of both East and West.Qin Leng comes from a family of artists, where the visual senses have always been of the utmost importance. She grew up watching her father work with acrylics, pastel, and ink. Father and daughter often spent their days drawing side by side. Drawing first started as a hobby, but soon became a way of expression.Despite her many years of study to become a biologist, Qin decided at the age of 20 to follow the same path as her father and enrolled in the School of Cinema to study Film Animation at Concordia University. She has produced animated shorts, which were nominated in various nationa

Qin Leng's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Paneled layouts provide ample opportunity for readers to view each step in the siblings' process, and close-ups of their facial expressions (frustration, disappointment, determination) add nuance to the story. . . . Young readers will also appreciate that these parents, while always within eyesight, mostly leave the kids to their own devices, allowing for a most satisfying beach day for everyone.
—Booklist (starred review)

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)

Leng renders the beach in sunny watercolors and delicate, wispy ink lines that capture the movement of dune grass, waves, and sand in the wind. The pacing moves like waves, too, with panoramic double-page spreads alternating with pages of panels that zoom in on the action.
—The Horn Book (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.

—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The team behind Over the Shop offers a wordless story about a long, wonderful day at the seashore. . . Lawson creates a portrait of the best kind of childhood learning curve—slow, cooperative, independent, and made with little more than sand and water.

—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

As the author-illustrator duo also did in Over the Shop, JonArno Lawson creates a detailed narrative that Qin Leng’s ink and watercolor artwork brings to life. . . . A Day for Sandcastles is a delightful story about perseverance and the joy of seeing a work in progress to completion. . . . will leave readers longing for a beach trip of their own.

JonArno Lawson and illustrator Qin Leng tell of a glorious outing to the seaside in “A Day for Sandcastles. . . The book’s ink-and-watercolor pictures are full of life and detail. . . There’s a lot of vicarious pleasure to be had in this charming book.
—The Wall Street Journal

This breezy, sun-washed story of a day at the beach has a beautiful, filmlike rhythm to it. With panels to show sequences, interspersed with whole-page spreads, this wordless book demonstrates the story-telling power of illustrations.
—The Virginian Pilot

Perfect summer reading material . . . Leng does a masterful job of creating colourful vignettes that track the kids’ efforts — and the various disasters that befall their sandcastles, including a relentlessly advancing tide. With charm and humour, Lawson and Leng give us a taste of summer at its best.
—The Calgary Herald

A great way for children to create, imagine, and tell their own story versions.
—The Calgary Herald

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