Town Is by the Sea

By Joanne Schwartz

Illustrated by Sydney Smith

While a young boy enjoys a summer's day, his thoughts constantly return to his father, who is digging for coal deep under the sea.

Stunning illustrations by Sydney Smith, the award-winning illustrator of Footpath Flowers, show the striking contrast between a sparkling seaside day and the darkness underground where the miners dig. This beautifully understated and haunting story brings a piece of mining history to life. The ever-present ocean and inevitable pattern of life in a mining town will enthral children and move adult readers, as a young boy wakes up to the sound of the sea, visits his grandfather's grave after lunch and comes home to a cosy dinner with his family, but all the while his mind strays to his father digging for coal deep down under the sea.

Categories: Picture Books

For readers aged: 5+

  • Publication details:
  • Format: Hardback
  • ISBN: 9781406377385
  • Published: 06 Apr 2017
  • Price: £11.99
  • Size: 210 x 280 mm
  • Pages: 52

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Customer reviews


'An atmospheric, haunting story about a young boy whose father digs for coal beneath the sea.' The Bookseller

'This haunting book, beautifully illustrated in ink and watercolour, bears record to a long-gone way of life. […]A book that demands to be studied and thought about.' LoveReading, Andrea Reece

'“Written by Joanne Schwartz and delightfully illustrated by Sydney Smith, Town is by the Sea is a quiet book that will stay with readers long after they have closed it.”' Israel Book Review

'“[…] this book is a stunning snapshot of a life […] And while this is for the reader a rather haunting tale, it also highlights the beauty and happiness that can be found around us even when life can seem harsh. […] The melodic text reads beautifully and the colour palette is stunning; Smith’s work on conveying sunlight on the water is some of the most striking I have ever encountered […] ”' Library Mice

'“A story, simply told, with beautifully evocative illustrations: this book is pure delight. […] It is one which when shared and talked about will become a firm favourite.”' The School Librarian

'“I haven't read such a deeply affecting picturebook in years – it moved me to tears. […] The pitch-perfect text and the outstanding illustrations which play with light and dark, summer sun and coal-seam black, combine to produce a masterpiece. I can't recommend it highly enough for older children and adults who are looking for something a little different.” – Independent online, Ireland' Independent online, Ireland

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