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Town Is by the Sea

By: Joanne Schwartz

Illustrator: Sydney Smith

Stunning illustrations show the striking contrast between a sparkling seaside day and the darkness underground where the miners dig. Author's note. Full-color illustrations.

ISBN: 9781554988716

JLG Release: Jul 2017


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Towns , Family life , Fathers , Jobs , Coal mines and mining

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Awards & Honors

2018 Greenaway Medal Winner
2018 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award Winner
2018 MLA Mitten Award Honor
Capitol Choices 2018, Seven to Ten
ALSC Notable Children’s Books 2018, Younger
CCBC Choices 2018 Choice: Picture Books for School-Age Children
School Library Journal’s Best Books of 2017, Picture Books
Horn Book Fanfare List 2017, Picture Books
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2017, Picture Books
Shelf Awareness 2017 Best Books of the Year, Picture Books
The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2017
The New York TimesNotable Children’s Books of 2017, Picture Books
Brightly Best Children’s Books of 2017, According to Kids
Booklist Top of the List Editor’s Choice, Fiction Middle Readers
NPR’s Book Concierge, 2017 Great Reads
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 2017 Blue Ribbons, Picture Books
2018 USBBY Outstanding International Books, Grades PreK–2
The Washington Post Best Books Children’s Books of 2017, Picture Books

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Booklist*, The Horn Book Magazine*, Kirkus Reviews*, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
This first-person narrative portrays a day in the life of a loving family in a seaside mining town. As the tale begins, Schwartz lays the foundation for a comparison of the boy’s daily routines, illuminated by sunshine, with the father’s world underground. The rhythm is established and continued at logical ju
[STARRED REVIEW]
This first-person narrative portrays a day in the life of a loving family in a seaside mining town. As the tale begins, Schwartz lays the foundation for a comparison of the boy’s daily routines, illuminated by sunshine, with the father’s world underground. The rhythm is established and continued at logical junctures with the protagonist’s introductory words: “It goes like this. . . . ” He then describes what he notices when he awakens, swings with his friend, eats a bologna sandwich, and visits the grave of his grandfather—also a miner. As the boy gazes at the sparkling water or basks in the light pouring through the diaphanous bedroom curtain, he is cognizant that “deep down under that sea, my father is digging for coal.” These phrases are also repeated periodically as the blackness that occupies most of the related spreads presses down on—and eventually eclipses—a small border depicting the father and coworker crawling through the mines. The voice is matter-of-fact, without judgment, and self-aware. Readers are left to draw their own conclusions. As in Smith’s illustrations for Jo Ellen Bogart’s The White Cat and the Monk, the ink and watercolor scenes are characterized by companionable relationships and strong brushwork; effectively evoking the story’s subject and qualities, the blackness forms shadows, window frames, silhouettes, outlines around objects (heavier around the father’s teacup than the mother’s), and, at the family dinner, a tangled mass under the table. VERDICT Art and text meld for a powerful glimpse at a way of life that begs inspection. A thoughtful and haunting book that will stay with readers.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library

Horn Book

[STARRED REVIEW]
“From my house, I can see the sea. It goes like this—house, road, grassy cliff, sea. And town spreads out, this way and that.” There’s a distilled, haiku-like quality to this boy’s description of an ordinary summer day in a seaside coal mining town in the 1950s. As the boy moves through his
[STARRED REVIEW]
“From my house, I can see the sea. It goes like this—house, road, grassy cliff, sea. And town spreads out, this way and that.” There’s a distilled, haiku-like quality to this boy’s description of an ordinary summer day in a seaside coal mining town in the 1950s. As the boy moves through his day—swinging on the beat-up playground swing set, eating a baloney sandwich, visiting his grandfather’s grave, listening to the radio, watching the sun set—the focus shifts among three locations: home, the ocean, and the mine deep underground where the boy’s father is working. “And deep down under that sea, my father is digging for coal.” The sea is made of light, the mine of darkness; and home is a mixture. The narrative is infused with a quality of slightly anxious waiting that illustrator Smith captures beautifully, especially in a wordless four-panel spread that shows the afternoon light moving across the boards of the kitchen floor as the family awaits the father’s return. Our narrator falls asleep thinking about the dark tunnels underground and undersea, and about his future: “One day, it will be my turn.” The six small square paintings that accompany this page reflect the tension of this knowledge, equal parts anticipation and anxiety. This is a moving story, and a fine example of text and pictures in perfect harmony. sarah ellis

Book Details

ISBN

9781554988716

First Release

July 2017

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

E

Trim Size

11" x 8 1/4"

Page Count

52

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Groundwood

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Towns, Family life, Fathers, Jobs, Coal mines and mining,

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