CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 33 . . . . April 29, 2016
Eliot, 12, hates to miss summer in Lakefield with his buddies, but his parents insist he will spend it in Point Aconi, NS, instead. There he will assist Great-Uncle Earl on his fishing boat, the YNOT. Initially things are dreadful. Earl is dour, strict and eats repulsive food! Eliot rises before dawn to fill bait buckets with rotting fish and work on the boat. On board, he is belittled by fisherman McGillivery, and, on land, he is bullied by Donnie McLeod.
Things improve when local children befriend him, and he becomes close to Mary Beth and Timmy. He soon realises Earl has hidden qualities and also that life is not as simple as it appears in Point Aconi. Its very existence is at risk from the threat of strip-mining. And Mary Beth has a secret. When she confides in him, Eliot struggles between respecting her confidence and finding her help.
Eliot rings true as a refreshing likeable character that readers will respond to. His outward obedience runs counter to the rebellious thoughts and realistic dialogue in his head. He shows a sensitivity beyond his years in his recognition of Timmy's wisdom who is perceived as "slow" and in his need to do the right thing by Mary Beth and her confidential disclosure. Supporting characters are well defined, made rich by Eliot's power of observation.
The psychological tension and plentiful action keep the reader thoroughly engrossed, as does the sardonic humour. The sights and sounds of a small fishing village are deftly evoked, and the daily runs on the YNOT reveal a life style of which many are unaware. The story is enhanced by Frank Viva's bold and whimsical illustrations. His adaptation of the typography into various shapes that correlate with the text adds a delightful and imaginative component.
Sea Change, a poignant, realistic and entertaining story, will appeal to children aged 10 to 13 and will be a welcome addition to personal collections as well as public and school libraries.
Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian from Toronto, ON.
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