Review of ‘The Big Waves’

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Title: ‘The Big Waves’
Author: Raewyn Caisley
Illustrator: Elise Hurst
Publisher: Puffin
Age Range: lower primary
Themes:  holidays, beach, waves, surfing, sand, family, bravery, overcoming fears, facing fears.

Click on title link or cover image to purchase.

I do so love a good ‘Aussie Nibble’ book. In fact there is very few Nibble/Bite/Chomp books which I don’t like. This series is far and away my favourite series for little ones starting out on chapter books.

After loving ‘The Mermaids Tail’, we tried another Nibble by Raewyn Caisley called ‘The Big Waves’, which is also about the beach. Wish we had this one before we went on our annual beach holiday this year. PudStar could use some encouragement in facing her fears in the swimming department! Poor Boli is Ava’s long suffering swimming teacher…and I always look at her and think that she deserves a cider (and a medal) after Ava’s lessons each week.

In ‘The Big Waves’ Sandy, her mum and brother go on a beach holiday. The beach is wonderful and Sandy loves her long swims in the just right waves until the morning she is dumped by a big wave. She loses all her confidence and is very hesitant about even going back to the beach. Her surfing mad aunty carefully and kindly helps Sandy to face her fear.

Being dumped by a huge wave is something most Australian children experience early and often. It is a terrifying experience for a young child (and adults in fact!) and ‘The Big Waves’ deals with the fear and loss of confidence in a gentle and reassuring manner.

Elise Hurst’s pencil illustrations are so soft and they beautifully capture Sandy’s feelings, from elation to terror to overcoming her fear. Her wave images are full of movement and are a great example for young illustrators in capturing movement.

I love how well illustrated Nibble/Bite/Chomp books are. They really are a perfect transition for young readers moving between picture books and chapter books. Note that I said moving between…please don’t ever make your children move on from picture books.

Puffin really has done an awesome job with the Nibbles/Bites/Chomps series and I hope they are around for a long time, and with new titles released each year.

Below is Pud in the only ocean waves she likes…very tiny ones.


Follow it up in the home, classroom or library:

  • Re read the passage where Sandy is dumped by the wave. The language used perfectly captures the feeling of being rolled around and dumped by a wave. I suspect the author has been dumped a number of times herself! 1. Highlight the descriptive words the descriptive words used by the author. 2. Make a list of words to describe how Sandy would have been feeling when she was in the wave, and then when her mum caught her.
  • Think of a time you have been scared of doing something…maybe climbing monkey bars after a fall, or eating hot pasta after burning your mouth on last nights dinner! Think  about what you have done, or could do to overcome your fear. Write or discuss a list of strategies you could use to overcome a fear. Discuss with your friends as friends are often great at helping you overcome a problem or a worry you may have.
  • Look closely at the illustrations and discuss how Elise Hurst has achieved her soft lines and shading. Try drawing in a similar style with some soft lines and even softer shading.
  • Look up some other books written by this author…what do you notice about them all? (often set near or at the beach)



Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

My book recommendations (for babies to young adults) is here and you can peruse ALL of my reviews (searchable by age, genre and theme) here.

Check out my mini ebook, 'What to Read Next' or sign up for my FREE webinar, '3 Tips to Start the Best Book Club Ever'.

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1 Comment

  1. Raewyn Caisley on Feb 8, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Thank you so much for your kind review. I hope Pud’s confidence grows. The sea is a wonderful place to enjoy as long as you are careful. Raewyn

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