Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
A pitch-perfect delivery brightens this familiar-seeming tale about stories that come true. Visiting his relatives at their farm in Wales every summer, Michael looks forward to Gramps's storytelling, ``like a long, happy sigh at the end of each day.'' The stories are so much a part of the fabric of the summer that when Michael takes his seven-year-old cousin, Polly, to the beach and creates a Sandman like the one Gramps has described, it does not entirely surprise them that the Sandman wakes up and eats their picnic. Determined to help the Sandman return to his native Ireland, they enlist the help of another character from Gramps's repertoire. Predictably, the family reacts to Polly's progress reports with good-natured disbelief (Michael carefully evades the issue). Consequently there is some satisfaction when the various characters reveal themselves to Gramps and Aunt Eleri, especially when Aunt Eleri proves herself a worthy hostess by producing miraculous quantities of tea. Inextricably linking summer holidays with magic, Morpurgo (Waiting for Anya) casts a spell with his ambient dialogue-the Sandman's brogue and the British inflections rise from the page like music. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 3-5-Mike looks forward to his summer vacations, which he spends on a farm in Wales with his cousin. But this year Barry is laid up with a broken leg and Mike is left to play with his younger cousin, Polly. At the beach, she begs him to make her a Sandman like the one in their grandfather's stories-a giant man who was shipwrecked on the shore years ago and turned to stone. Piling sand around the stones that are supposed to comprise the giant's body, Mike tries to humor her. But she firmly believes that she can bring the Sandman to life. At this point the tale begins to fall apart. The Sandman comes to life, calls his sea turtles (three large offshore rocks), and takes the children to Coracle Island, supposedly his overturned vessel from centuries before. The appearance of a Russian submarine, captained by the grandson of the old lighthouse keeper, is a parallel plot that never really works. Perhaps it is the wooden characterizations, or the fact that the magical, mystical Welsh coast is never fully realized, but this fantasy simply doesn't have the inner logic it needs to convince readers to suspend disbelief.-Connie C. Rockman, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 4-6. This delightful fantasy, set on a seaside farm in Wales, tells of one special summer when fairy tales come true. Michael visits his cousins every year and looks forward to the tradition of Grampa's nightly bedtime stories. All the children learn them by heart, so Michael knows "the script" when some of the best characters come to life. Spurred by Grampa's tale of the Sandman, Michael and young Polly craft an enormous form on the beach and are frightened as well as delighted when the sand creation wakes up. Michael must then decide how much about his and Polly's incredible adventures with the Sandman he should tell his cousins and the adults. A warmly written tale that will be a great read-aloud for families. ~--Susan DeRonne
Horn Book Review
When Michael is visiting his cousins on the coast of Wales, his grandfather's fantastic stories -- about the sleeping Sandman and a lighthouse keeper who turns into a seagull -- appear to come to life. Told by Michael in an informal, colloquial style laced with low-key humor, the briskly paced book will attract readers just beginning to explore fantasy literature. From HORN BOOK 1994, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Michael spends the summer in Wales with his Uncle Rob, Aunt Eleri, Gramps, cousin Barry, and Barry's little sister, Polly. Usually when he goes to Wales, Michael spends his time playing with fun, athletic Barry. But Barry has a broken leg, Polly wants Michael's company on the beach, and Michael's vacation turns out differently from the way he expects. One thing hasn't changed, though--Gramps's stories. Before bed the family gathers around and listens to Gramps talk about the Sandman and his Turtles who sleep rocklike on the beach, and of Sergei Ivanovich Prokofiev, the Russian sailor who lost his ship and crew and became the lighthouse keeper on nearby Coracle Rock until he turned himself into a seagull and flew home. Polly is young enough to believe her grandfather's stories. So when she and Michael go to the beach, she fully expects the Sandman to wake up before the tide comes in--and he does. The family doubts Polly, but when Sergei Ivanovich Prokofiev Jr. shows up with his Russian submarine and joins them for tea, the rest of them are convinced. A diverting fantasy from Morpurgo (Twist of Gold, 1993, etc.). (Fiction. 8-12)