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Town Is by the Sea

Written by Joanne Schwartz

Illustrated by Sydney Smith

Featured Books for 5+ readers Featured Books for 7+ readers

LoveReading View on Town Is by the Sea

Winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2018

This haunting book, beautifully illustrated in ink and watercolour, bears record to a long-gone way of life. A young boy describes his day, from first thing in the morning when his father leaves for work, though playtime, lunch, shopping and his father’s return as evening falls. His descriptions are matter of fact, events presented as they happen, and the sea is a constant. It’s always there, visible from the house and playground, and the boy thinks of his father under the sea at work in the mines. Scenes underground are black and oppressive, forming a sharp contrast with the other pages, bathed in sunlight, the sea sparkling in the background. The boy accepts he’ll follow his father and grandfather into the mines: ‘I’m a miner’s son,’ he says, ‘In my town, that’s the way it goes.’ A book that demands to be studied and thought about. 

Andrea Reece

Town Is by the Sea Synopsis

While a young boy enjoys a summer's day, his thoughts constantly return to his father, who is digging for coal deep under the sea. An atmospheric, haunting story - The Bookseller Stunning illustrations by Sydney Smith, the award-winning illustrator of Footpath Flowers, show the striking contrast between a sparkling seaside day and the darkness underground where the miners dig. This beautifully understated and haunting story brings a piece of mining history to life. The ever-present ocean and inevitable pattern of life in a mining town will enthral children and move adult readers, as a young boy wakes up to the sound of the sea, visits his grandfather's grave after lunch and comes home to a cosy dinner with his family, but all the while his mind strays to his father digging for coal deep down under the sea.

Town Is by the Sea Press Reviews

An atmospheric, haunting story about a young boy whose father digs for coal beneath the sea.  The Bookseller

Written by Joanne Schwartz and delightfully illustrated by Sydney Smith, Town is by the Sea is a quiet book that will stay with readers long after they have closed it.  Israel Book Review

this book is a stunning snapshot of a life...And while this is for the reader a rather haunting tale, it also highlights the beauty and happiness that can be found around us even when life can seem harsh. The melodic text reads beautifully and the colour palette is stunning Smith's work on conveying sunlight on the water is some of the most striking I have ever encountered.   Library Mice

A story, simply told, with beautifully evocative illustrations: this book is pure delight. It is one which when shared and talked about will become a firm favourite.  The School Librarian

I haven't read such a deeply affecting picturebook in years - it moved me to tears. The pitch-perfect text and the outstanding illustrations which play with light and dark, summer sun and coal-seam black, combine to produce a masterpiece. I can't recommend it highly enough for older children and adults who are looking for something a little different.   Independent online, Ireland

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781406378863
Publication date: 05/04/2018
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781406378863
Publication date: 06/04/2017
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781406378863
Publication date: 5th April 2018
Author: Joanne Schwartz
Illustrator: Sydney Smith
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 52 pages
Suitable for: 5+ readers, 7+ readers
Other Categories: All Shortlists and Winners, Carnegie Greenaway

About Joanne Schwartz

Joanne Schwartz was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She is the author of a number of children's books including Our Corner Grocery Store, which was nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. Joanne has been a children's librarian for more than twenty-five years. She lives in Toronto.

More About Joanne Schwartz

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