Town Is by the Sea

Town Is by the Sea

Written by: Schwartz, Joanne
Illustrated by: Smith, Sydney
ages 5 to 9 / grades K to 4

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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.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.7
Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.7
Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.1
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

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.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.7
Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.7
Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.1
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Published By Groundwood Books Ltd — Apr 1, 2017
Specifications 52 pages | 11 in x 8.25 in
Written By

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.

Illustrated by

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.

Written By

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.

Illustrated by

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.

Audience ages 5 to 9 / grades K to 4
Reading Levels Lexile AD550L
Key Text Features author's note; historical context
Common Core CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.7
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.1
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.7

Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Award, Young People's Literature — Illustrated Books, 2017

Commended, Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book, 2017

Commended, New York Times / New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award, 2017

Commended, Shelf Awareness Best Books of the Year, 2017

Commended, School Library Journal Best Books, 2017

Commended, Kirkus Best Picture Books, 2017

Commended, New York Times Notable Children’s Books, 2017

Commended, Horn Book Fanfare, 2017

“A quiet book that will stay with readers long after they have closed it.” —Kirkus Reviews

“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

“This is a moving story, and a fine example of text and pictures in perfect harmony.” —Horn Book

“Hauntingly beautiful.” —Booklist

“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 and Quire

“This quietly devastating book … stirs timeless, elemental emotions.” —New York Times

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