A young boy wakes up to the sound of the sea, visits his grandfather’s grave after lunch and comes home to a simple family dinner with his family, but all the while his mind strays to his father digging for coal deep down under the sea. Stunning illustrations by Sydney Smith, the award-winning illustrator of Sidewalk Flowers, show the striking contrast between a sparkling seaside day and the darkness underground where the miners dig.
With curriculum connections to communities and the history of mining, this beautifully understated and haunting story brings a piece of Canadian history to life. The ever-present ocean and inevitable pattern of life in a Cape Breton mining town will enthrall children and move adult readers.
Joanne Schwartz was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Her first picture book, Our Corner Grocery Store, illustrated by Laura Beingessner, was nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. Her other books include City Alphabet and City Numbers, with photos by Matt Beam, and two Inuit folktales with Cape Dorset elder Qaunaq Mikkigak — The Legend of the Fog, illustrated by Danny Christopher, and Grandmother Ptarmigan, illustrated by Qin Leng. Her most recent book is Pinny in Summer, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant. Joanne has been a children’s librarian for more than twenty-five years. She lives in Toronto.
Sydney Smith was born in rural Nova Scotia and has been drawing from an early age. Since graduating from NSCAD University, he has illustrated multiple children’s books, including the highly acclaimed wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers, conceived by Jon Arno Lawson, which won a Governor General’s Award, was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book and has been long-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal. He is also the illustrator of Grant and Tillie Go Walking by Monica Kulling and The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart, both highly acclaimed. Sydney has received a number of other awards for his illustrations, including the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration. He now lives in Toronto and works in a shared studio space in Chinatown.
This is one of the most beautiful picture books you’ll see this year. It’s picture book-making at its very best.
This is a moving story, and a fine example of text and pictures in perfect harmony.
Sydney Smith's gorgeous, airy illustrations showcase the beauty of childhood in the seaside town. … [Schwartz] perfectly captures the matter-of-fact thinking of a small child.
This quietly devastating book … stirs timeless, elemental emotions.
A quiet book that will stay with readers long after they have closed it.
Exquisitely rendered, it's a subtle day in the life title … This is, in short, a magnificent book.
Town Is by the Sea offers some of the most beautiful paintings of sunshine on water ever painted … a powerful and profound work of art that tweaks our perspective and transcends its subject.
Only rarely in a picture book do words and art interact as potently and intimately as they do in this luminous collaboration.
Art and text meld for a powerful glimpse at a way of life that begs inspection. A thoughtful and haunting book that will stay with readers.
Smith’s expressive, evocative spreads contrast the light-soaked landscape above with the night-black mine below … a sensitive way of helping readers understand that, for some, the idea of choosing a career is a luxury.