Town is by the Sea


Joanne Schwartz, author; Sydney Smith, illustrator. Groundwood Books, 2017.

Town is By the SeaA boy recounts how his day passes in a small town by the sea. The sea is the constant focal point; its sparkling expanse is contrasted by the confined coal mine that lies beneath it. The protagonist shares that he will be a third generation coal miner. He’s not bitter about his certain future, only acknowledges it. The illustrations fully carry the rising tension, and the reader begins to wonder if the father survived the collapse of the coal mine that day. A happy ending ensues. Phewf!

The word choice is soothing and poetic and left me mesmerised. I was also left with a melancholy feeling–although the tranquility and simplicity of small town life may be enviable, the boy does not even think to dream of a different future or a world beyond his town by the sea. Nonetheless, for this proud Canuk, this picture book is beautiful, haunting Canadiana at its best.

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