The Specific Ocean - Kyo Maclear (Author) & Katty Maurey (Illustrator)

A young girl is unhappy about having to leave the city for a family vacation on the Pacific Ocean (which she used to call the Specific Ocean). As the days pass, however, she is drawn to spend more time in and near the water, feeling moved by its beauty and rhythms. By the end of the vacation, the girl has grown to love the ocean and now feels reluctant to leave it behind. But as she soon realizes, it doesn't ever have to leave her.

As I can't review much in the way of YA or even upper-level MG fiction, I am doing a lot of reviews of picturebooks. I have to say, too, that I'm really enjoying doing so! There are a lot of great picturebooks coming out this year, including some from my own lovely country of Canada! This is fabulous, to me, as Canada unfortunately often gets lost in the grand scheme of the publishing industry. So now, let me move on and do the actual review of this fabulous new book, coming out in September.

The Specific Ocean is beautiful story about a trip to see the Pacific Ocean, told in a combination of delightful prose and spare imagery. The illustrations feature muted and soothing colours combined with a style that lacks outlines, which allows characters and landscapes to bleed together (see illustration below.) Maurey's use of colour is at once tranquil and telling of the relaxing quality of visiting the beach.

While Maclear's prose tell the story of a restless youngster who doesn't initially want to visit the ocean, the story evolves into a much fuller appreciation of nature and the ways in which human beings seem to be in a symbiotic relationship with the world around them. Maclear's illustrations mix with Maurey's paintings to create a sense of irony in a number of spreads, and a feeling of soothing relaxation in others.

In the end, this is a book that young readers will find enjoyable for the quality of images and illustrations, and which adults with find fun and informative because of the interactions between the human characters and the environment that they enjoy for the sake of their vacation(s).


(NOTE: This review is from and Advance Reading Copy - Out August 1, 2015.)


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