Waiting for High Tide, by Nikki McClure, Abrams Books for Young Readers, $19.95, 48 pages, ages 6-9. (April 5, 2016)

Nikki McClure is to cut paper what Robert Sabuda is to pop-ups: the master of her domain. Her latest endeavor is based on a family summer outing to the Salish Sea near Olympia, Washington, when the McClure family built a raft lovingly named the Leaky Kon-Tiki, which the author explains in her endnotes.

In Waiting for High Tide, an anxious boy combs the beach for crabs, clams, and kingfishers. As he waits for the adults to finish constructing their watercraft, the boy observes various marine animals also at work, foraging for food, building nests, and waiting for the tide to change. The child’s narrative is simple and charming, revealing his intimate understanding of this special coastal area.

McClure’s cutouts are done from single sheets of black paper and contrast beautifully against large swaths of gray-blue and pops of pink. Though time and tide wait for no man, this book is a gorgeous ode to the pleasures of anticipation and the wonders of a summer spent by the sea.

In, by Nikki McClure; Abrams Appleseed, $16.95, 32 pages, ages 2-6.

Master cut-paper artist Nikki McClure (May the Stars Drip Down; How to Be a Cat) has crafted another stunning story full of bold images that demonstrate the deft skill of a professional at her best. Here readers meet a young boy who decides that today is just too cold and wet to venture outdoors, but perfect to explore the simple pleasures of playing make-believe. McClure’s books are generally done in black and white with one major pop of color – here it’s yellow, highlighting a toy giraffe, a yellow flag, and even a jar of marmalade. Keep an eye open for owls – McClure filled In with 35 different kinds of the bird of prey. Then check the last page to see if you found them all.

This joyous celebration of downtime will speak to overscheduled youngsters (and their parents), reminding us that unsupervised moments are blissful manna for the soul.