cover image In a Village by the Sea

In a Village by the Sea

Muon Van, illus. by April Chu. Creston (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-939547-15-6

Artist Chu (Summoning the Phoenix) and first-time author Van transport readers to a small seaside village. Opening with a scene of fishermen at work beside cliffs where a house is nestled (“In a fishing village by the sea/ there is a small house”), Van’s circular, incantatory writing closes in on the house (“In that house,/ high above the waves,/ is a kitchen”), where a woman cooks, a dog explores, and a baby rests. Skillfully using a variety of visual perspectives, Chu’s delicately detailed and colored illustrations invite close study; the fishermen’s nets have a gauzy translucence, and papery garlic bulbs, veiny basil leaves, and softly glowing lanterns are all drawn with naturalistic care. As Van directs readers down a hole in the corner of the room, the story shifts into fantasy—beneath the floorboards, a cricket paints a majestic picture of a stormy sea, in which a fisherman (previously seen in the opening pages) longs to return to the woman and child in the hillside home. A lovely, resonant portrait of family life that hums with quiet magic. Ages 4–10. (June)