'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 7 August 2017

Review: The Town is by the Sea

He is a coal miner’s son. Therefore, the boy’s life is a predictable one. The sea surrounds their town. The town is the sea. Beneath that sea the miners dig for coal. Every person there is connected by the similarity of their lives. 

Each awakening brings familiar actions and sounds that begin with his father’s leaving for work. The inevitability of his life is reflected in his father’s coming and going. When speaking of his father, he speaks also of himself. Nothing has changed for generations.

This is a poignant and deeply moving verbal salute to all the miners that began as boys in the pits, and for almost two centuries, exchanging their youth for the darkness in order to survive.

Joanne Schwartz has done an impeccable job of presenting the unaltered state of mining towns and the lives of miners and their families with her reverent text. She uses repetition of the same sentence to define the daily routine where everything is known except if each man will return to their homes and loved ones at the end of the day.

Sidney Smith, award-winning illustrator of the wordless Footpath Flowers, steps up to the challenge of interpreting this profoundly moving story with the juxtaposing of brilliant light in the life above ground, and pitch black with the men almost invisible,  underground beneath the sea digging for coal.

The illustrations are created using ink, watercolour and gouache. The atmosphere of the sea and the bleakness and blackness of the mines is chilling, even to the reader. I loved this book. So little said for so much learnt.

Title: The Town is the Sea
Author: Joanne Schwartz
Illustrator: Sidney Smith
Publisher: Walker Books, $24.99
Publication Date: April 2017
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781406377385
For ages: 8+
Type: Picture Book