CM . . . . Volume XX Number 18 . . . . January 10, 2014
An annual autumn event in her Nova Scotia community inspired 15-year-old author/illustrator Izra Fitch to create Spin to Sea, an enchanting story about the gathering of friends and family to cast their carved pumpkins off to sea. The pumpkins, lit from the inside by candles, float away as the crowd watches and cheers. The children follow their pumpkins along the shore as encounters with waves, fish and even other pumpkins signify that it will not be an easy journey.
Written in simple, yet lyrical prose, the story invokes the imagination. Young readers will easily identify with the excitement that the children in the book portray. A few word choices, likely to not only fit a rhyming scheme, but to further the story (such as orb, hallowed and cajoling), may need to be defined by an older reader in order for the young reader to fully understand the story.
I think the strength in this book comes from the illustrations. Each whimsical illustration is spread over two pages, and the overlaid text is large and bold. The magical pictures give human-like characteristics to the pumpkins. Their expressions are enhanced by the text as they become important characters in the story. Fitch's play with light is inspiring as the pumpkins illuminate the dark night. It is interesting to note how the light from the pumpkin changes as it is reflected underwater or on a child's face.
Fitch, at only 15, has put up an impressive first book. Spin to Sea was co-written with her mother, Doretta Gronenedyk, an author/illustrator of children's books.
Spin to Sea would be a wonderful addition to any library.
Gillian Green is a children's reference librarian in Woodstock, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.