Sea Change by F. Viva
Viva, Frank. Sea Change. Toon Books, 2016.
What kid ever wants to be shipped off to some old relative’s place for the summer? Well, if you read any juvenile literature the answer is, of course, almost none. And Eliot is no exception.
At first glance, Point Aconi, Nova Scotia does seem an unlikely place to have the ‘great time’ that Eliot’s mother claims he’ll have. There’s the offhanded old great-uncle and his mangy old dog, a rag-tag bunch of kids, some who have issues, the very unappealing food (tongue and onions or pickled pigs feet) and having to work on a fishing boat, all of which seem like a nightmare come to life.
But, as in most of these kinds of novels, Eliot comes to love and appreciate the unique locale, care about the quirky kids who live there, and adapt to local ways. His growing maturity is evident when he takes on a local bully and helps him get a job. He also figures out the best way to help his new best friend, Beth, who is being physically abused by her father.
Despite the predictability of some of the storylines, the strengths of the story are found in the strong sense of place and the various characters who live there. Viva is an author, illustrator and designer with several picture books to his credit and certainly, the quality of the book’s production is high with many artsy, retro-style illustrations and text formatting that is reminiscent of concrete poetry. The text flows and bends to highlight Eliot’s thoughts and observations, making the book all that more interesting.
This short illustrated novel should find an audience with middle grade readers who like stories with interesting characters. The Canadian context makes this attractive for classroom use, too.
Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Review: Tammy Flanders
Tammy is the Reference Coordinator in the Doucette Library of Teaching Resources at the University of Calgary. She also reviews juvenile resources with an eye to classroom use in her blog, Apples with Many Seeds.
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