Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ballyhoo Bay

By Judy Sierra and illustrated by Derek Anderson

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Book, 2009

$16.99, ages 4-8

Every Saturday Mira Bella flops over to Ballyhoo Bay in her flippers to teach art to sea life, kids and grannies until one gloomy Saturday a plan to build a high-rise development on the beach threatens to put an end to etching and sketching and undersea sculpture at the bay.

The plan calls for penthouse apartments, a garage "where there once was a beach," and a "casino as high as a cloud" and tacked on is a P.S. "No children or wildlife allowed." The students see no other choice than to pack up and leave, but Mira Bella cries out, "Nonsense! We won't move away. This ridiculous notion is only Plan A." She pulls out her art tent, rallies the students to paint banners of the sea, sand and sky that they love and together they march to city hall to push for Plan B: to leave the beach as it is, "friendly and fun and fantastic and free."

Almost as fun to read as a Dr. Seuss rhyme, Sierra's read-aloud shows the power of art to change minds and gives a nod to poet John Keats' famous line, truth is beauty.

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