friday feast: s is for sea glass by richard michelson and doris ettlinger (+ flip flop cookies)

#49 in a series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Put on your bathing suit and flip flops. Grab your pail, shovel and shades. Let’s go to the beach!

Poet Richard Michelson and illustrator Doris Ettlinger celebrate the sights, sounds, smells, fun and mystery of a joyous day by the sea in their charming new picture book, S is for Sea Glass: A Beach Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Press, 2014).

Written in a variety of poetic forms (ode, haiku, free verse, rhyming couplets), Michelson’s poems range from lyrical to light, capturing the many moods, rhythms, and emotions associated with ocean and shore from A to Z.

Have you ever made a sand angel? Or maybe you’d rather show off your castle-building skills, stroll the boardwalk, or comb the beach for shells or sea glass, letting your imagination run wild with possibility. Was this piece from a “king’s cup/Or medicine bottle” — maybe even a pirate’s decanter? Whatever you decide, there’s nothing quite like a tossed and tumbled “gift from the ocean.”

Writing from various points of view, Michelson is equally adept at capturing the pure joy of an unleashed dog bounding down the beach when he sees “his boy,” as he is at evoking the dreamy serenity one experiences while gazing at the horizon.

Kids will enjoy hearing what the jellyfish, shells, gulls, rain and nautilus have to say, as they read about how good it feels to wiggle their toes into flip flops, breathe in the salt air, listen to the crash and rumble of waves. The seashore is magical even during winter, with its ice castle floor “of diamonds that shimmer and crystals that glisten.”

Ms. Ettlinger’s watercolor and pencil illustrations provide lovely, engaging canvases for the poems, drawing the reader into each scene with interesting details and fetching facial expressions. Her water blues are gorgeous, and there is palpable energy in her waves.

Enjoy these sample poems from this breezy collection brimming with sensory delights, and don’t forget your sunscreen :)!

*   *   *



Winter is buckles and shoehorns and laces

And wingtips, galoshes, and high-tops,

But summer is giggles and smiling faces

And wiggling our toes into flip-flops.


*   *   *



Where does the sea stop and the sky begin?
Where does the sun rise when the dawn slips in?
Where does the ship sail when its sails disappear?
Is it under the ocean? Is it up in the air?

If I travel the world or stay here on this beach,
The horizon will always be just beyond reach.
But it’s real as my dreams and it’s always nearby —
That magical line where the sea meets the sky.

*   *   *



I’m feeling amazingly lazy —
been choosing to snooze in the sun.
Dad says we should play catch, swim, exercise,
toss Frisbees, or go for a run.

But days that are blazing and hazy,
I’d rather just catch a sea breeze.
So I think I’ll just finish my pizza
And cozy back down for some ZZZZZZZZZZs.


*   *   *


Mr. Cornelius hopes you’ll make some Flip Flop Cookies, the perfect let’s-celebrate-summer treat to munch on while you’re reading S is for Sea Glass. They’re easy to assemble using Nutter Butters, Twizzler Pull ‘n Peel licorice, flower-shaped sprinkles and a little frosting “glue.”

Always at the forefront of fashion trends, he likes mismatched pairs best and swears they taste better. (Hat tip to Kitchen Fun with My Three Sons.)


*   *   *


S IS FOR SEA GLASS: A Beach Alphabet
written by Richard Michelson
illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2014
Poetry Picture Book for ages 7-10, 32 pp.

*   *   *

poetryfriday180Carol at Carol’s Corner is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup. Swim over and check out all the cool poetic offerings being served up in the blogosphere today. Have a lazy dazy weekend!

♥ More alphabetica here.


alphabet icon Certified authentic alphabetica. Made by hand just for you with love, salt water and the pull of the tides.

*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2014 Richard Michelson, illustrations © 2014 Doris Ettlinger, published by Sleeping Bear Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


52 thoughts on “friday feast: s is for sea glass by richard michelson and doris ettlinger (+ flip flop cookies)

  1. As I scrolled down to write my comment, I was so distracted by Alan Rickman, I forgot what I was going to say! Oh, yes, the poems. They make me wish I was heading off to the beach today, but I least I can wear flip-flops. The flip-flop cookies are adorable, and so simple. I’ll be making some soon. Thanks for sharing, Jama!


    1. LOL — Oh, was Alan staring at you again? What a flirt!

      These are definitely fun poems, and the cookies are super easy to put together. Great addition to any summer picnic or cookout. 🙂


  2. These poems make me want to put on my flip-flops and head for the beach. Beautiful illustrations, too! Those flip-flop cookies are adorable. Thanks for the rich post today!


    1. Thank YOU for the beautiful work you did on this project, Doris! Mr. Cornelius liked the boardwalk painting best, and has been craving ice cream every day.


  3. My family & I are off to the beach again this summer, & I must get this book to take along, Jama. It covers just about everything we do, & see! Love those flip-flop cookies too. What a treat. Thanks for sharing this very cool book!


  4. I think I need to own this book! Way fun! And share your Z is for zzz’s poem and Ralph’s lullaby poem together. And have flip flop cookies, of course!


    1. Yay — glad to hear you also called them zoris. Must be a West Coast/Hawai’i thing — more Japanese American influence?


  5. Looks like I’ll have to add another book to my list of poetry books to read this summer. The poems look wonderful and the illustrations pulled me right in. Only you could make me want to eat a flip-flop.


  6. This is just to say that I have been here and read your words, but surgery on both thumbs last Tuesday prevents me from typing a personalized comment. Forgive me — copy/paste is the best I can do this week! 🙂


  7. Don’t forgot to dab some sunscreen on your snout before you hit the beach Cornelius!

    Adorable post Jama!


  8. Oh there is much to celebrate in this book – there’s the alphabet (always a winner here in Jama’s home, of course), then there’s the beach, and the spirit of poetry ingeniously woven throughout. Lovelovelove it. Our time at the beach a few weeks back was much too short. Hope to visit another island again before school begins – well at least in my dreams as I have a feeling it might not happen. Boo.


    1. Glad to hear you had such a great time at the beach recently. This book will “tide” you over till the next time you can go. 🙂


  9. I love what the illustrator did with the boardwalk poem. I am so impressed by what you’ve shown us–poems and illustrations!


  10. Kevin gave me a pair of earrings made of sea glass… they’re one of my favorites. This is the kind of book to read to a little one when there’s snow on the ground outside.. making those clever cookies would make it easier to wait for Summer!


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