Off to See the Sea

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Off to See the Sea Book Poster Image
Charming bath time book shows the power of pretend.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

One or two words on each page are capitalized and in color, which may draw little eyes in for incidental letter recognition practice.

Positive Messages

Use your imagination to make things you have to do more fun.

Positive Role Models

The mom uses pretend play and imagination to engage her little one at bath time. She appears to genuinely enjoy entertaining the toddler. Child, mother, and father are all Black. Child's gender is not identified. The mother does most of the work of bath time, the father reads on the couch and carries the child away from the bath.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Off to See the Sea, by the author-illustrator team of Nikki Grimes and Elizabeth Zunon, brings back the family from Bedtime for Sweet Creatures for bath time. Mom entices her little one to the bathroom with the promise of a "roaring waterfall." Once in the tub, mom pretends and plays with her child with genuine joy. The artwork is bright and full of movement (waves, floating bubbles, swirling water), sure to engage little eyes. The child's expressive face communicates just how much fun bath time can be with a little imagination. The rhythmic, free-verse text is meant to be read aloud. Traditional gender roles are shown: Mom bathes the child while Dad reads on the couch, and then he carries the child off to bed after the bath. This book offers the littlest readers a satisfying bath time adventure.

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Teen, 16 years old Written byDogcat January 24, 2022

What's the story?

In OFF TO SEE THE SEA, a young child hides from their mother after she announces bath time. Dad gives away the toddler's hiding place, and mom coaxes the child into the bathroom and slips them into a "SOFT-SCENTED SEA." They then pretend about yellow monsters (a rubber ducky), diving down deep for treasure, and piloting tugboats through rough seas, among other made-up seafaring fun. Mom sneakily washes hair and unplugs the drain, and they watch the "ocean swirl away." A pool of water surrounds the tub as bath time ends, the remains of this bath time adventure, and Dad carries the youngster away to bed.

Is it any good?

This sweet, creative bath adventure with stunning art will enchant little daydreamers who sometimes need encouragement to do what they must. Off to See the Sea brings all the imaginative joy from Bedtime for Sweet Creatures to the oft-resisted cleaning ritual. There's a playful, pleasing rhythm to the text for the most part, and lines of text occasionally arc and smile or swirl down the drain for a touch of whimsy. As with the first book, the art is fantastic, crafted in vivid, bold colors of oil and acrylic paint with cut paper collage, lending visual interest and texture to each spread.

Adult readers who value shared parenting responsibilities may be disappointed to see that, as in Bedtime for Sweet Creatures, Dad is less involved in the work (and fun) of bath time. Aside from this snag, it's a really fun romp of a book for little ones and their adults.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how imagination works in Off to See the Sea. Does the child want to take a bath at first? Why do you think pretending helps the child enjoy the bath?

  • Talk about the art and words on your favorite pages. What are some interesting details you noticed? Why do you think they were drawn or printed that way?

  • What do you think about how the mom and dad share the work of bath time? Does it seem like each does their fair share? Why, or why not?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and bedtime stories

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