The Sea House
written by Lucy Owen
illustrated by Rebecca Harry
published by Firefly Press 2019
114 pages of story & illustration
a magical marine story of hope
Summary from Firefly Press
One night grieving nine-year-old Coral cries so much, she fills her house with tears and wakes to find a magical underwater world packed with exciting sea creatures, right inside her own home! But there are some terrifying creatures who have come to the sea house too. Can Coral find the strength to overcome their darkness, with the help of her new friends?
A Reader’s perspective:
From Firefly Press’ s ‘Dragonfly’ imprint, The Sea House is clearly intended for young independent readers. It has eighteen short chapters each with delightful pencil-like illustrations. However The Sea House could be enjoyably read aloud with a slightly younger or less confident child.
Rebecca Harry’s beautiful cover with silvery bubbles on an underwater background convey the charm and lightness of what is actually a story about mourning. The delicacy and liveliness of the artwork throughout reflects the style of the writing – which manages to be full of joy despite the central topic of loss.
Many scenes would be enormous fun to read out – full of entertaining language and happy echoes of Finding Nemo.
Other appealing aspects include the use of the beautiful Welsh song Calon Lan (with translated lyrics) and a fine set of underwater characters. Most will delight or amuse the reader – though there is one misery to defeat. The underlying message about family love is nicely resolved too.
Decidedly ‘up lit’, this is a great book for any child dealing with grief. It will also delight budding oceanographers! (It even includes a bonus section of ten fishy facts.)
Comments from a Writer and Editor:
As a supporter of Sarah McIntyre’s #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign, it gave me great pleasure to comment above on Rebecca Harry’s charming illustrations for The Sea House. You can read and see more about her process on her website here.
Please note that Firefly Press give her work due credit. This tiny publisher punches well above their weight (think neon tetra versus a basking shark) and have the courage to give the less obvious but brilliant books their chance.
- Who else would have taken on an underwater fantasy which portrays recovery after dreadful loss for young readers?
- And who else would have ensured such a book was funny and light-heartedly magical?
- And who else would bring together such an apt pairing of words and images?
If you are buying books for children in any context, I urge you to check out smaller publishers. You may well be able to buy direct and support local and imaginative creators.