At the end of the 2017, author/illustrator Jan Thornhill was asked to name her favourite book of the year. She picked Town is by the Sea and here are the beautiful words she said of the book:
“When I finished reading this picture book about a day in the life of a Cape Breton coal miner’s son, I felt like crying for two reasons. First, because Joanne Schwartz’s gorgeous, minimalist text and Sydney Smith’s evocative watercolour-and-ink illustrations combine to make a hauntingly perfect whole. Second, because it was one of those rare book reading experiences that instantly made me feel like I should just give up trying to make something so perfect myself. Or at least try harder. Stunning.”
I want to express my gratitude for this tremendous compliment, in particular because I have been a huge fan of Jan Thornhill’s work since her very first picture books. Wildlife 1,2,3 : A Nature Counting Book and Wildlife A B C: A nature Alphabet were my introduction to this multi-talented writer, artist, and inspired naturalist. Another of her early picture books, currently out of print, Wild in the City, is the perfect blend of bold picture making and simple story to awaken the wonder of a preschooler to the natural world in their own urban back yard. (Please bring this book back in print!!)
Jan has written many other fascinating non-fiction books for kids to learn about the world around them. In the brilliant I Found a Dead Bird, Jan tackles death and how it unfolds as part of the cycle of life. In Who Wants Pizza?: the kid’s guide to the history, science and culture of food she takes on the food cycle and the whole question of why we eat what we eat. And in This is my Planet: the kids Guide to Global Warming, in her inimitable style, Jan guides her reader through the most important of global issues.
Last year Jan won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for her beautifully illustrated Tale of the Great Auk, a fabulous account of this legendary bird. This Spring, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this book, Jan goes to the opposite spectrum of the bird world and tells the story of the intractable house sparrow in The Triumphant Tale of the House Sparrow.
Thank you Jan for the wonderful words about Town is by the Sea.
And thank you Jan for your wonderful and important books for children about the natural world!