If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don't!
By Jan Carr,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Silliness reigns when determined girl drags piano to beach.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Information about what kids can do at the beach. Seagulls at beach pictured building nests. Sheet music pictured with musical notation. Text looks hand-lettered, resembling the print kids will learn. Magnet letters of the alphabet are pictured on fridge, as is a piece of artwork referencing the first book starring Magnolia, If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't!
Even if things are difficult, you can try to do them. If your initial plan doesn't work out, maybe something else might work out. Natural objects such as shells are fun to play with and can be put to different uses. Kids in families can be different races.
Positive Role Models
Though the story's couched in silliness, Magnolia is a model for a can-do, determined girl. She rises to challenges, and when her initial plan goes awry, she accepts and sees the beauty in Plan B. The family, composed of kids of different races, happily models diversity.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Elise Parsley's If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don't!, a sequel to her popular If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't!, features the same demonically determined narrator, Magnolia, and revels in the same slaphappy silliness. Magnolia, the oldest of three siblings, decides to bring her piano on a family trip to the beach, with predictably ridiculous results -- the piano ends up sodden and floating out to sea. Kids will enjoy being in on the preposterousness, and Magnolia is a refreshingly strong-willed female character. The art pictures a comfortably inclusive family, with siblings of different races.
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What's the Story?
IF YOU EVER WANT TO BRING A PIANO TO THE BEACH, DON'T! addresses the reader directly, letting "you" know what might happen if you decide to bring a piano the beach. It's narrated by Magnolia, who says, "If your mom says to get ready to play at the beach, she means with a boat, or a Frisbee, or a shovel. She is not talking about the piano." But while mom and siblings are gathering beach balls and slathering on sunscreen, Magnolia decides to take it anyway. She drags it to the sand, sits atop it for her picnic lunch, gets attacked by nest-building seagulls, pushes the piano into the water for "bath time," then borrows her siblings' fishing rod to try to reel it back. With it she snags a small scallop shell, which ends up making a very good "boat, or a Frisbee, or a shovel" -- perfect for the beach!
Is It Any Good?
Silliness abounds when a determined young girl decides to take her piano to the beach despite her mother's warning, "You'd better not lose it," and though it's hard to lose a piano, lose it she does. Kids will laugh at the absurdity in the text and the very funny art and at Magnolia's faces, which are wildly expressive. Magnolia is the epitome of a single-minded, can-do girl who's not daunted by the challenges of piano moving.
Magnolia narrates the book as instruction to "you" the reader, a form that will be familiar to readers of any of the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books. As in those, the story circles back to the way it began, providing a satisfying ending. The beach setting adds to the fun in this breezy summer read.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about things people usually bring to the beach. What would be some silly things to bring? Make a list, and make up a story about what would happen if you brought one of those things.
Magnolia is extremely determined when she gets an idea. What creative ideas have you had lately? Have you figured out how to carry them out? What would the consequences be?
Magnolia's face is very expressive. Can you make faces like that? What do you think she's feeling in different pictures?
- Author: Elise Parsley
- Illustrator: Elise Parsley
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, Music and Sing-Along, Ocean Creatures
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: May 3, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 3 - 6
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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