#1278 – JULES VS THE OCEAN by Jessie Sima


Written & Illustrated by Jessie Sima
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children 5/12/2020
48 Pages   Age 4—8

Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes: Sand Castles, the Ocean, Sisters



knows just how to get
her sister’s attention.
She will build the
sand castle on the beach.
It will be impressive.
But the Ocean . . .
the Ocean has other plans.
(from inside jacket cover)

Opening Sentence

“JULES is going to make the BIGGEST . . . FANCIEST . . . MOST EXCELLENT castle that has ever been built. Her sister will be so impressed!”

Why I like Jules vs. the Ocean

Jules is at the beach with her mom and older sister. She has decided to impress her big sister by building the “BIGGEST, FANCIEST, MOST EXCELLENT” sand castle. Hoping the Ocean might help, Jules learns quickly how little it cares about sand castles . . . a wave crashes into her first bucket of overturned sand.

Jules happily starts again . . . and again . . . and again . . . Each time, the Ocean’s waves crash into her creation. Looking around the beach, Jules sees several other kids successfully building big, fancy, excellent sand castles. Jules’ unnamed sister assures her the Ocean is not purposely targeting her castles—it happens to everyone.

Purposely or not, Jules decides, “enough is enough” and stands up to the Ocean. Low waves hurry in to bury her feet in water. Reversing course, the waves then pull Jules’ sand castle bucket out to sea.

How will Jules impress her sister with the “BIGGEST, FANCIEST, MOST EXCELLENT” sand castle without a bucket? Will Jules lay facedown in the sand, giving up in despair, or find a way to beat the Ocean?

Anyone who has ever gone to the Ocean, or a Lake, and tried to build a sand castle will commiserate with Jules. Her sister tells her the Ocean is not out to get her, but Jules has trouble believing this—it smashed her castles! It took her bucket!

Looking at the other kids’ wonderfully creative castles, Jules misses one important observation: those kids are not building close to the waters’ edge. Jules’ determination, and her resolve, highlights this wonderful summer picture book.

The illustrations are lively, fun-filled, and humorous (which kids will love). Jules’ sister surfs while Jules fights the Ocean waves. Author Jessie Sima uses the “BIGGEST, FANCIEST, MOST EXCELLENT” onomatopoeia to give life to the Ocean’s waves.



Teachers interested in adding Jules vs. the Ocean to their young student’s curriculum will love the STEM ending. If you look closely at the illustrations, one spread offers a hint to what this could be. Jules has a great range of emotions, from excited, confident, and determined to despair, hopeless, and defeated.

When Jules sister returns from surfing and finds her little sister without her bucket, she lifts Jules’ spirits. The two sisters build the “BIGGEST, FANCIEST, MOST EXCELLENT” sand castle ever built . . .(Uh-oh! See above!)

The ending seems to suggest there might be another Jules on the way. These two sisters could easily become fan favorites, as together they face a seemingly defiant natural element (with STEM explaining this natural phenomenon; leading to the next story).

Girls will love the relationship the two sisters enjoy. Maybe twin brothers are home with dad, waiting for their turn to impress the teacher—and young male readers.

One can always HOPE!

Illustrations Rendered in Photoshop.

Available at Amazon:  Jules vs. the Ocean

JULES VS. THE OCEAN. Copyright © 2020 by Jessie Sima. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children, New York, NY.


Copyright © 2020 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
[471 word count-review only]

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