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A West Coast Summer

by Carol Evans (ill.); Caroline Woodward

“To the sea, to the sea, who or what waits here for me?” asks the refrain of this ode to Canada’s left coast. Summer is waiting, as it turns out, and with it all the joys of a season spent where the “cedars smell so sweet beside the shore.”

In this series of images linked by rhyming verse, curious children explore the great outdoors – biking, boating, fishing, and generally having a carefree time by the water. Young naturalists leave no log unturned and no goose unfed. Summer on the coast is full of things to do, be it digging for clams or dancing at a totem-pole raising.

A West Coast Summer’s greatest appeal lies in the artwork. Carol Evans’s sense of light is exceptional and her watercolours are meticulously detailed; some of the paintings could easily be mistaken for photographs. Truly a visual feast, every ripple and wave is captured with remarkable skill.

The coast is familiar territory for Caroline Woodward (Singing Away the Dark), who has spent the last decade living and working in B.C.’s lighthouses. Woodward’s poem is a fun and breezy read. Though the verse is stilted at times, her love of the seaside shines through in her sheer exuberance: “It’s a West Coast summer, the best kind of summer, a summer by the sea.”

Nothing can ever be “timeless,” but A West Coast Summer exists in a world without (or before) ubiquitous cellphones or video games. Rosy nostalgia colours the portrayal of these idyllic summer scenes, where children play unsupervised and imaginations run wild. There is an understated emphasis on family and tradition throughout the book. Older children walk hand-in-hand with younger ones. Grandparents pass on skills to the next generation.

Readers of all ages will delight in this celebration of all that makes the West Coast unique. A beautiful keepsake for any library, A West Coast Summer would be as much at home on the coffee table as on the nursery bookshelf.