Town is by the Sea

Reading is great because you always get to learn something. It’s way cheaper than taking college courses at night.

And what I learned from reading Town is by the Sea, written by Joanne Schwartz, is that I love Sydney Smith’s illustrations. So. Much. The ocean water actually glistens on the page. The black, underground coal is a physical weight.

Okay, there’s more to be gleaned from the pages. It is a rather melancholy tale really, about a Cape Breton boy who goes about his day while his father digs for coal under the sea. This immediately spawned a lot of Googling on “under the sea coal mining.” This proved to be a rabbit hole. I felt claustrophobic reading about it, but that might just be my teeny Vancouver apartment.

Schwartz writes with a lovely, rhythmic cadence about the boy’s day: how he goes to the park and looks at the sea and the whole time he’s thinking about his dad, deep underground. When the family reunites at the end of the day and sits in the fading sunset, it is a lovely, simple conclusion. And not one that should be taken for granted. Coal mining is dangerous.

Sydney Smith attended Events 5 (A Feast of Fun), 22 (Alchemy of a Book) and 41 (Best in the Biz) at the 2017 Vancouver Writers Festival.


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