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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
In Dreams of the Turtle King: Poems Inspired by South Florida Beaches, Denise Bossarte shows there is so much of life on the beach. It is a world full of metaphors and thoughtful inspirations. As the waves wash up on the sandy beach, all is made fresh again and life starts over.
Denise Bossarte is a poet who obviously loves the beaches along Florida's coastline. She observes the obvious: the people who walk along the beaches, looking for shells washed in by the tide; the children who build sandcastles that will later be washed away by the tide; and then there are those who seek the treasure that may lie hidden beneath the sand, ignoring the beauty that surrounds them. The poet speaks of all of these characters in her poetry. She also speaks of the animals she finds on the beach: the seagulls, the pelicans, the pigeons, and the sea life washed ashore. She compares the animals to humans in poems like "The Circle Dance": "A flock of seagulls is flying in the sky, crossing and swirling in a chaotic, circular dance." She contemplates the things she finds, the inanimate and once animate objects: shattered shells, abandoned deck chairs, a child's pail and shovel next to an ornately designed sandcastle. In the distance she hears the motorcycles along the freeway; in the sand she sees the tracks of a bulldozer. And then she contemplates her thoughts on the beach. In "Lead Me", she writes: "Footsteps in the sand lead me down the beach, make me wonder who came this way before me, even as they disappear under the waves."
Life goes round and round on the beach. Its serenity is sublime and contemplative, "coming last, I see them all." Bossarte's inspirational words, along with the colorful illustrations by Texas artist, Nancy Standlee, provide the reader (old and young) with a relaxing and insightful tour of the beach. Beautiful poetry and illustrations. Well done.