cover image Sea Change

Sea Change

Frank Viva. Toon (Consortium, dist.), $18.95 (120p) ISBN 978-1-935179-92-4

Twelve-year-old Eliot Dionisi’s mother is sending him away for the summer to stay with relatives in the Nova Scotia fishing village of Point Aconi. “Sounds like the name of a sharp object to me,” he grouses. At first, his gloomy expectations are borne out. His Uncle Earl, a laconic lobster fisherman, wakes him before dawn each day, the food is appalling, and town bully Donnie threatens him with a baseball bat. But gradually Eliot’s horizons widen. Uncle Earl has an unexpected love for literature; Timmy, a younger boy with a speech impediment, shows him what courage looks like; and the bruises on his friend Mary Beth’s arms assume more than casual importance. Although there are some cloying moments (“I think he just needs another chance, sir,” Eliot tells his uncle about Donnie), Viva’s (Outstanding in the Rain) small-town characterizations ring true. More illustrated novel than graphic novel, the story combines drawings with playful typography, which warps and bends around the images, even forming faces, à la concrete poetry, at times. Moving from picture books into fiction can be a stretch; Viva makes it look easy. Ages 8–12. Agency: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (May)