Captain Swashby’s one good friend is the sea, which he’s been around for a long time, and “she knew him in and out, up and down, and better than anyone.” Now an old man and ready to retire, Swashby wants nothing more than to live close to the sea and be left alone. A recluse’s life is the life for him, “salty and sandy and serene.”
However, when a young girl and her grandmother move into the empty house next door to Swashby’s home, walk on his deck without permission, and take over the beach with their chairs and umbrellas, Swashby’s peace and equilibrium are disturbed.
What can Swashby do to drive them away? He comes up with a perfect solution; he writes a message in the sand: “No Trespassing.” But before the girl and her grandmother can see his command, the sea washes over the words and changes the message, leaving only the last four letters, spelling “Sing.” The girl sings for Swashby, believing he is welcoming them.
And, so, it goes. Swashby continues to write messages urging his neighbors to vanish or go away, and the sea fiddles with each one, creating messages of welcome instead. When the sea makes one more desperate effort to urge Swashby to accept his neighbors, the old man flings aside his qualms and rises to the challenge, and the threesome become a laughing, loving, sharing community. In this endearing children’s picture book, author Beth Ferry’s clever, hilarious narrative and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal’s joyful, spirited artwork portray the wonder and beauty of an awakening friendship in a most unlikely setting and with the help of a most unusual source. (HMH Books for Young Readers)