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  Bookends: Dan Davidson
 

The Sandcastle Contest

Reviewed: November 22, 2005
By: Robert Munsch / art by Michael Martchenko
Publisher: Scholastic Books
32 pages, $6.99

When Matthew goes on a camping trip with his family he ends up on a beach where there is a sandcastle contest going on. He learns this from a girl who has even sculpted a sand dog. Matthew blows everyone away with a sand house that it so good the judges sit around inside it arguing with him that it canít possibly be made of sand. He has to kick it down around their heads in order to prove it.

In addition to winning the contest, Matthew also makes his own very special sand dog, finally getting around his parentsí refusal to get him a pet.

This story has most of Munschís hallmarks: vivid fantasy, silliness and a triumphant ending. What is different is that there is less of his trademark repetition, a technique born of his oral testing of all his stories before he gets them into final form. The result here is that this feels like a story for slightly older kids than Munschís usual audience. Thatís not a criticism. Iím sure kids will enjoy this as much as the others.

Martchenko is Munschís best artist/partner when heís telling this kind of story, and his fantastic sand structures really enhance the tale as you read it.

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