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

Friday 2 December 2022

Review: Dirt By Sea

Have you ever been travelling around Australia, or had the hankering to? This book will not only indulge that craving, it might even have you packing your bags. 

Dirt By Sea is a brilliant large-page comic picture book with 40 glorious pages about a girl and her father adventuring around Australia.

Daisy lives in outback Queensland when whilst listening to the national anthem realises – what on earth does ‘dirt by sea’ mean? 

Her dad explains that it is ‘girt by sea’ meaning they are surrounded by the ocean. Daisy walks outside and says – hold up, we are surrounded by dirt!


Daisy’s dad then realises he has never taken his daughter to the ocean. ‘What have I been doing these last 5 years?’ he asks himself with resignation, ‘looking after me of course!’ his five-year-old replies. The dad decides – not only will he take her to the sea, but many seas and many places! They pack up their old Kombi van (the ONLY way to travel Australia of course!) and head off on the journey of a lifetime. 

What follows is a voyage across Australia in a van. Together Daisy and her dad have all kinds of wild travel adventures from daring things such as ATV driving, and diving with sharks and giant rays, to more relaxing things like chilling on the beach and trying new foods.


 Dirt By Sea is like a travel journal for kids and represents everything about Australia and shows off some of the best of what we have to offer from every corner of the country – from a red dirt farm in the middle of Brissy, to Ningaloo reef in Perth and Byron Bay. It is about finding your place and identity and spending time together as a family.


The relationship between dad and daughter is gorgeous and a strong point in this story – you get to watch both characters grow physically and mentally over the trip, as well as subtly talk about the grief of the passed-away mother.

They develop a beautiful bond which is wonderful to watch unfold over the story. It also features plenty of Aussie humour and dad jokes to appeal to those with a funny bone that needs an occasional itching. 


Dirt by Sea will charm a large audience, from young to old. The illustrations and the comics work incredibly well with the writing. The blues and oranges perfectly sum up the combination of outback and sea that encapsulates Australia, as well as the endless stretches of road. Wagner and Jellet have worked together on other books, Why I love Footy and Why I love Summer, and their experience together shows, with each taking up the perfect portion of storytelling.

Title: Dirt By Sea
Author: Michael Wagner
Illustrator: Tom Jellett
Publisher: Penguin Publishing, $24.99
Publication Date: 20 September, 2022
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760894061
For ages: 3 - 7
Type: Picture Book