This is a beautiful and haunting book, but might be too sad for young readers.
Town Is By The Sea is about life, and those who live in a small town by the sea. In it, a young boy simply describes his day, things that other people do, what he observes about the sea, and what his future will hold. While not much happens, not much needs to happen, because Schwartz and Smith have created a poignant story that immediately captures us. The narration gives us a glimpse into the mindset of a person that many urban folks won't quite understand. We are told with all honesty that this is a lifestyle where not much happens, where men are still the main providers, and where children are pretty much expected to follow in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents. It is not a path that many want to follow nowadays. However, Schwartz writes each line with such fondness, that one can feel almost envious. Smith's work is the perfect complement to his partner's quietly reflective tone. Just like with Sidewalk Flowers, he tries to convey the feeling of a certain experience with his beautiful inks and paints. The dull tones and use of shadow and light speak volumes about the relaxed pace, and type of existence people in a small town have. It is a place where one just naturally takes the time to enjoy the horizon. But underlying this all is a darker narrative. Every few pages, the boy speaks about the coal miners and his father, who are working deep under the sea in the pitch dark as the day progresses. The boy doesn't know it, but the pictures show us the danger, and, coupled with the following talk about the dead grandfather, who was also a miner, and the calm of the sea, we are filled with foreboding. Town Is By The Sea is a brilliantly paced, emotionally-driven tale that let's its readers experience a type of life that they will probably never live. Beautiful, and quiet, but with a reminder that even in the most peaceful of places lies hardship.
This book does a great job of evoking certain emotions through the artwork and the story. I'll be looking for more stories from this author.
This is a hauntingly beautiful book that will be especially meaningful for anyone from rural Nova Scotia. It perfectly captures the breathtaking beauty surrounding the small mining communities built up along the coast as well as the danger, uncertainty, and inevitability that was the backdrop of any mining family's life.
I thought the illustrations were goregous and the story itself was very lyrical, but I didn't think that this story necessarily matched the author's note at the end of the book. I didn't feel that this story quite captured the danger of working in the mines and I don't think it was very clear that it was set in 1950. Overall, I enjoyed the illustrations and the story, but I found the nuances of it, hard to place.
A lyrical tribute to labor and to the way of life in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia - http://www.minersmuseum.com/history-of-mining/ This story takes place in the 50's, but there is talk of resurrecting a coal economy in Canada.
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