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:
Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
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)
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
About the authors
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. 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.
- Commended, Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year
- Winner, Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration
- Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award
- Commended, Cooperative Children's Book Center Best of the Year
- Winner, CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal
- Commended, ALSC Notable Children's Books
- Winner, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award
- Commended, New York Times Notable Children’s Books
- Commended, Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book
- Commended, Shelf Awareness Best Books of the Year
- Commended, School Library Journal Best Books
- Commended, New York Times / New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award
- Commended, Horn Book Fanfare
- Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids and Teens
- Commended, Kirkus Best Picture Books
- Commended, NPR Book Concierge
- Commended, BookPage Best Children's & Young Adult Books
- Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Award, Young People's Literature — Illustrated Books
- Commended, Denver Public Library Best Children's & Teen Books
This quietly devastating book … stirs timeless, elemental emotions.
New York Times
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
A quiet book that will stay with readers long after they have closed it.
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 story ebbs and flows like the sea itself . . . one of the best illustrated books of the year . . .
This is a moving story, and a fine example of text and pictures in perfect harmony.
Other titles by Joanne Schwartz
Other titles by Sydney Smith
Do You Remember?
It's Up to Us
Building a Brighter Future for Nature, People & Planet (The Children's Terra Carta)
Canada Year by Year - Revised Edition
I Talk Like a River
Small in the City
A Rebellious Shadow