Town Is By The Sea by Joanne Schwartz & Sydney Smith (Walker Books)

In this achingly beautiful and haunting story, we are greeted with a tale full of contrasts.

We are offered an underlying sense of how life in this mining town goes about their business.

Presented with an outstretched glistening sea on the cover, Sydney Smith tempts the reader in with the most glorious artwork and a joyous sense of openness, space and freedom.

But it’s not long into the book where we are presented with a very different picture. The sprawling black of the coal mine well below the ocean, takes over much of the interspersed spreads and the boxed-in characters oppose that of the previous illustrations.

Written so tenderly by Joanne Schwartz, the story follows the thoughts of a young boy and his inevitable journey to becoming a future miner.

This town may function a little differently from the ones the readers live in and it acts as a reminder of the diversity of our villages, towns and cities.

The story cleverly flits between the boy’s unfurling day in the sunny seaside town and his regular thoughts for his father digging deep below the ground. Using a steady and rhythmical narrative and bold repetitive phrases, Schwartz sets the scene perfectly for the backdrop to this emotive tale.

Coupled with Smith’s texture-filled illustrations, this understated tale is bound to resonate with you read after read.


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