Reviews /

By The Sea

Authored by Judith Homoki
Illustrated by Martin Haake
Published by Prestel Publishing

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By The Sea is a lesson in geography and history, looking at every aspect of our oceans as is possible, from holidays to trade, and mythical beings to marine life.

Each ‘chapter’ is a double page spread, the highlight of each being the gorgeously detailed illustrations that take priority. At the bottom of each page is a narrow strapline of detailed text, which explains the artwork that is placed above.

The history element of the book is emphasised at the start of the book, as the reader is invited to explore how continents, and therefore coastlines, have developed and evolved. Human geography is then intertwined, looking at when and why people either settled near the coast, or started to visit coastal regions for recreational reasons.

After the introductory pages, the journey takes us around the world. We visit the Mediterranean coastlines, taking in the artwork of Henri Matisse, the French Riviera, and historic lighthouses. The section on the Atlantic coastlines takes in immigration, piracy and rainforests, and we continue to the trade of the Indian Ocean and the surf of the Pacific – and this is just scratching the surface. There is so much to immerse yourself in.

The level of detail in the text is excellent, especially in such a small space, and would fulfil its objective of teaching children about a wide range of life by the sea. My only concern is that there is a lot of additional text within the larger illustrations, some of which is hard to actually see due to the colours used for the font and the background and may also come across as a little disjointed.

Many teachers in Key Stage 1 teach topics around the seaside (at least in my experience!), and, though the text itself may be beyond the children in those year groups, the illustrations will add intrigue and interest to the topic. By The Sea would work well as a book of interest in Key Stage 2, and children would love to dip in and out of it in order to explore different parts of the world.