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Town is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz brings alive the legacy of a mining town

Town is by the Sea is a hauntingly beautiful book….one that you would like to keep coming back to!

Town is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz describes a day in the life of a young boy, whose father is a miner. The boy lives by the sea and his father goes to work deep under the sea. The boy’s day is filled with play, while his father works tirelessly in the dark confines of the coal mine.

 The bright and cheery scenes from the child’s day are contrasted with the dark and dreary coal mine, where his father works. The scenes that depict the day of the child have vivid detail while darkness envelops the mining pit. While the words used for describing the boy’s day are varied, for the father, it’s only as follows:

 And deep down under that sea

My father is digging for coal


The ocean is ever present and the child can see it all the time, whether he is at home, in the playground or at his grandfather’s grave. However, his mind often wanders back to his father who is digging for coal. The book portrays the pattern of life in a mining town- both on land and in the mining pit. 

If you were a child in a mining town in the 1950’s, the scenes in Town is by the Sea would be strikingly familiar. If not, the emotions that the book evokes will resolutely strike a chord!

 The beautiful words are brought alive by stunning illustrations. Sydney Smith, the illustrator of Town Is by the Sea has won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2018, UK’s oldest and most prestigious award for illustration.

 Town is by the Sea may describe a coal mining town in the 1950s. But, the story evokes emotions that are relevant across time and geographical boundaries. Shared human experiences and stories can, after all, connect people from all over the world! This is a timeless picture book that children of all ages will enjoy. And yes, it will enchant adults as well!



Title: Town is by the Sea

Author: Joanne Schwartz

Illustrator: Sydney Smith

Publisher: Walker books, UK

Genre: Children