Snapshot: Peep-lo by Jane Castle

Jill’s family had a summer cabin at the beach.

Sometimes she waded in the water.

Sometimes she played in the sand.

Sometimes she hunted for treasure.

So begins Peep-lo, written and illustrated by Jane Castle and published in 1959. Titled after the call of the mother plover that Jane encounters at the beach, this story narrates a series of interactions between Jane and the plover over the course of one day.

Why you might choose to read this book:

  • Jill is not a one-dimensional character. She goes through a series of emotions and moods, none of which is ever spelled out. To put this another way, Jill feels real. She is not static or stereotyped, and this is conveyed in part because her feelings are conveyed through her actions and her words.
  • Jill has ideas and acts independently. There is a easeful feel to the story: reading it really is like sharing Jill’s day at the beach.
  • This is a complex story. On one level, it is simple: a girl has an adventure, or a series of adventures, during a holiday at the beach. On the other hand, the predicted outcome of the narrative changes several times. The outcomes make perfect sense and are not predictable.
  • This is a lovely introduction to plover behaviour. I’ve never, to my knowledge, seen a plover, but I have an interest in them and an idea of what to expect from a nesting mother because I read this book throughout my childhood.
  • Speaking of lovely, have I mentioned the illustrations? Jane Castle could draw as well as write. Here, proof:

Peep-lo first page

(Image source. My copy is a later edition – 1965.)

And more proof (and some spoilers):

Peep-lo insides

If you’re looking for a sweet-hearted story, here you are: Peep-lo by Jane Castle.