________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 33 . . . . May 5, 2017


Town is by the Sea.

Joanne Schwartz. Illustrated by Sydney Smith.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2017.
52 pp., hardcover & pdf, $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55498-871-6 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-872-3 (pdf).

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9.

Review by Tamara Opar.

***½ /4



When I wake up it goes like this –
first I hear the seagulls, then I hear a dog barking,
a car goes by on the shore road, someone slams a door and yells good morning.
And along the road, lupines and Queen Anne's lace rustle in the wind.
First thing I see when I look out the window is the sea.
And I know my father is already deep down under that sea, digging for coal.

      And so begins the day of a young boy in 1950's Cape Breton. Wherever the boy goes throughout his day, he is followed by the sea and reminded of his father who is working below in the coal mines. Each segment of the book is introduced with a chorus of "it goes like this –" to describe a specific part of the day, which contrasts the two different worlds of life above and below sea level. As the boy enjoys his day by playing with a friend, running errands for his mom, visiting his grandfather's grave and by enjoying a simple dinner and quiet evening with his family, he is always mindful of the life that awaits him, as he is the son of a miner and "in (his) town, that's the way it goes".

      Joanne Schwartz' writing is tender and simple, sprinkled with echoes of Canadian history. The illustrations of Sydney Smith are simply beautiful and offer a stark contrast between the sparkling sea and the dark mines below.

      In this year of celebrating Canada's 150th birthday, Town is by the Sea offers a piece of Canadian history for discussion in classrooms and with family.

Highly Recommended.

Tamara Opar is Section Head of Children's and Teen Services at Millennium Library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

Next Review | Table of Contents for This Issue - May 5, 2017.

CM Home
| Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive