Surfside Girls – The Secret of Danger Point
by Kim Dwinell
Top Shelf Productions / Penguin Random House
Stories for young adults don’t need to be complex, but they do need to show ways children can expand their life boundaries in safe, engaging manners. This book takes us to a small seaside village that has not yet been destroy by the condo hurricane, but one looms on the horizon. A long-abandoned parcel of land was sold to Evil Corp, and the bulldozers are rolling up. Samantha and Jade are two young women born for the beach, they paddle board and surf like pros and start exploring this fenced in parcel. A little mystery is always good in life, and this place is haunted by ghosts. Not the scary, zombie type; just the spiritual remnants of a community long passed away. Samantha meets the vaporous Robert; he’s a cute teen ghost who shows her the ropes of the spirit world, gives her a big secret that spares the property, and introduce here to this mirror community of the eternally haunting neighborhood. None of this is visible to Jade, and we have the whole “are you going crazy” angle so common in ghost stories. Samantha receives advice and a talisman and eventually saves the day. After all, we need to protect the young from nihilism until at least college.
The story is fine but it’s the illustration that put this up on the top of the heap. Ms. Dwinell has a light touch in creating these ink and watercolor images, and she build character and situation professional and in the style of a good, modern graphic novel. We meet a room full of beach town archetypes: the arty old woman, the fast food guy, life guards, real estate speculators and hippies. Nice, clean hippies, but it IS a beach community. I still enjoy skipping around to revisit the illustration, and highly recommend this book for the young ladies in your life. Don’t forget your sun screen, and always let someone know where you’re going to surf.