Sunrise Summer by Matthew Swanson

Cover image for Sunrise Summer.

Sunrise Summer by Matthew Swanson, illustrated by Robbi Behr (9781250080585)

A family heads to Alaska for the summer, traveling 4000 miles to get there. This summer, the girl narrating the story will get to join the fishing crew for the first time. She will pull ropes, twist anchor poles and fetch water. The girl and her mother watch the river, waiting for the salmon to come. Meanwhile, the family keeps busy with necessary repairs, mending nets, and listening to the fishing reports on the radio. The tides say that fishing should start at 4 am, so the family gets up a 2:30 am to head out. They dress up in rubber waders, long gloves and woolly hats. They face wind, rain and high waves as they head out to fish. At 4 am, the nets are dragged into the water and it’s her job to tie the net to the rope, but it’s much harder with the tide pulling, a wet rope and slick mud underfoot. The whole crew helps out, until finally it’s time to remove the salmon from the nets by hand. Then they get shipped all over the world.

Based on Robbi’s own personal experience as a young girl spending summers in Alaska as part of a commercial fishing operation, this picture book is full of details that only someone who has lived it would know. From bumping into bears on the beach to the troubles of taut ropes to the immense pride in being included in the family business, all of this adds to the joy of a girl participating on a fishing team for the first time. The writing is focused and brief, making the book perfect for sharing aloud. The focus is on facing a new experience with family by your side and realizing with pride that this is what we do.

The art is digitally done with watercolor washes across the sky and collaged elements that have the characters popping with black outlines against the backgrounds. The depiction of the beauty of the Alaskan tundra is particularly of note as well as the clear family support among everyone.

A unique and fascinating lifestyle that is worth smelling like fish. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Imprint.

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