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Groundwood Books

Town Is by the Sea

Written by Joanne Schwartz • Illustrated by Sydney Smith

For readers 5 - 9 years old | Published April 01, 2017 | ISBN 9781554988716
JUVENILE FICTION / Family / Multigenerational

Cover of Town Is by the Sea

Regular price $21.95 CAD

52 pages | 8.25 in × 11 in
Print Format

About this book

Town Is by the Sea

Joanne Schwartz • Sydney Smith

Winner of CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal
Winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

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.

About the Creators

Joanne Schwartz

Joanne Schwartz was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She is the author of Town Is by the Sea, illustrated by Sydney Smith, winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, among many other honors. Her first picture book, Our Corner Grocery Store, illustrated by Laura Beingessner, was nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. She has written several other highly acclaimed picture books, including Pinny in Summer and Pinny in Fall, both illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant. Joanne has been a children’s librarian for more than twenty-five years. She lives in Toronto.

Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith was born in rural Nova Scotia and has been drawing from an early age. Since graduating from NSCAD University, he has illustrated numerous children’s books, including the highly acclaimed wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers, conceived by Jon Arno Lawson, which won a Governor General’s Award, among many other honours, and was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book. He is also the illustrator of Town Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz, for which he was awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal, and which won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Prize. Small in the City is the first picture book that Sydney has written as well as illustrated. He lives and works in Toronto with his wife and son.

Awards and Praise

Praise for Town Is By The Sea:

A quiet book that will stay with readers long after they have closed it. Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

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. School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

This is a moving story, and a fine example of text and pictures in perfect harmony. Horn Book, STARRED REVIEW

Hauntingly beautiful. Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

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. Shelf Awareness

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. Publishers Weekly

This is one of the most beautiful picture books you’ll see this year. It’s picture book-making at its very best. BookPage

Only rarely in a picture book do words and art interact as potently and intimately as they do in this luminous collaboration. Toronto Star

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. Quill & Quire, STARRED REVIEW

This quietly devastating book … stirs timeless, elemental emotions. The New York Times

Exquisitely rendered, it's a subtle day in the life title … This is, in short, a magnificent book. A Fuse 8 Production

"this story ebbs and flows like the sea itself . . . one of the best illustrated books of the year . . ." Huffington Post

  • Commended Horn Book Fanfare, 2017
  • Commended Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year, 2018
  • Commended ALSC Notable Children's Books, 2018
  • Commended BookPage Best Children's & Young Adult Books, 2017
  • Winner CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, 2018
  • Commended Denver Public Library Best Children's & Teen Books, 2017
  • Commended Cooperative Children's Book Center Best of the Year, 2018
  • Short-listed Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award, 2018
  • Commended NPR Book Concierge, 2017
  • Commended New York Times Notable Children’s Books, 2017