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Until I Saw the Sea

Photography by Alison Shaw
Published by Henry Holt, Design by Sue Dawson
Out of print. Hardcover and paperback. Available through

A collection of seashore poems for children, from traditional nursery rhymes to contemporary verse, illustrated with colorful, seaside photos.

“Swimming in the ocean, the taste of salt water on your tongue, the feel of sand between your toes - anyone who has spent time at the seashore will recognize these familiar sensations. From traditional nursery rhymes through contemporary odes to the ocean, this collection of 19 poems bring them to life. The poetic voices in this anthology are as diverse as the poets themselves: Robert Louis Stevenson, e.e. cummings, Myra Cohn Livingston, and Lilian Moore. Illustrated with lustrous color photographs by award-winning photographer Alison Shaw, Until I Saw the Sea is a treat for beachcombers, young and old, who will remember what they love about the sea and the summer long after the first leaves of fall have hit the ground.”
    – from the cover of Until I Saw the Sea

“From the brilliant kite dancing over the green sea on the dust jacket front to the yellow, red and green beach ball forever suspended in an ultramarine sky on the back cover, this book is a visual delight.... As a children’s book, Until I Saw the Sea is a radical departure from the cutesy look and language of many books offered today, and yet the saturated color and the rhythm of the poems will appeal to even a very young child. In an era of publishing where few good books using photos effectively are available, this book is outstanding. Here is a book that does not condescend, rather it respects the reader of any age.”
    – Vineyard Gazette

“Splashing in the water, digging in the sand, marveling at the sunset - here's the next best thing to being at the beach. Open this collection of glorious photographs, nursery rhymes and poems by writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson and e.e. cummings, and you'll be tempted to check for sand in your shoes.”
    – Scholastic Parent and Child

“The sights, sounds, and fun of the sea are celebrated here in poetry and lustrous photographs. Authors John Masefield, e.e. cummings, and Myra Cohn Livingston, among others, explore sand castles, fog, seaweed, shells, and the ineffable lure of the ocean. The 19 poems range in complexity from brief and evocative to longer and more thoughtful verses. Shaw’s expansive photographs dominate the page with their size and glowing colors. The compositions are simple and striking, with extreme close-ups of sandy and sea-splashed children, nautical ropes, and the surface of the water. This book will be equally enjoyable for those new to the sea and those for whom it’s an old friend.”
    – Booklist

“The vividness of the words and up-close focus of the photos makes this a real attention-grabber for any small, reluctant readers.”
    – Catholic Standard