Friday 2 June 2017

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 2nd June 2017 - "Town is by the Sea" by Joanne Schwartz and Sydney Smith (Walker Books)

This week's Picture Book of the Week is like a siren song for land-locked folk like us. The truly stunning "Town is by the Sea" by Joanne Schwartz and Sydney Smith...
I think at one time or another, most people will know that slightly melancholy feeling of watching the sun set while gazing out to sea on the last day of their holidays.

It happens to us a lot, pretty much every time we go somewhere where there's a stretch of wild coastline, or a dainty row of houses tucked above a gorgeous cove.

"Town is by the Sea" is a young boy's story of his life. This lucky little fellah lives next to the ocean, and every morning he wakes up to the sunshine creeping through the window - and the sound of the ocean waves lapping at the shore.

It sounds like an idyllic life - as it would for any kid, but the boy's father is a miner - working under the sea itself, mining for coal as many miners did off the coast of Newfoundland over the last couple of centuries as the demand for coal and the industrialisation of the western world grew like wildfire.

Beautiful seascapes punctuated by almost Lowry-esque details of the miners who made their living mining sea coal
As much as the boy's narrative talks of the glistening ocean and carefree days, each reminiscence is counterpointed by an understanding of his father's sacrifice, and later a poignant moment where the boy visits his grandfather's grave. Also a miner, he wanted to be buried facing the ocean - and the boy's realisation that he too will probably become a miner like his dad is such a heartbreaking moment and a reminder to make hay while the sun shines, while you can still cling onto your carefree childhood.

Oh my, this spread...honestly have you ever seen anything so beautiful in a children's book?
Charlotte and I were completely dazzled by this beautiful book - but Charlotte in particular couldn't get enough of the page above.

"It looks so real" she quietly murmured. It really is a stunningly gorgeous story but with a heartfelt and important message tucked between its perfect pages. Highly recommended.

Charlotte's best bit: That seascape. So beautiful and realistic.

Daddy's favourite bit: A heartwarming book full of wonderful little moments that will make you wish for both your childhood and to be near the ocean again.

(Kindly supplied for review)

"Town is by the Sea" by Joanne Schwartz and Sydney Smith is out now, published by Walker Books.