Margaret Wild (text) and Jane Tanner (illustrator), Girl from the Sea, Allen & Unwin, May 2020, 32pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760524302
A dark and moody sea. A girl rises out of the water, searching, yearning for a home and a family. Is she a ghost? A spirit? The family in the cottage by the sea can’t see her, but the animals feel her presence. She imagines what she would do in the warm embrace of the family. Will they let her in?
Wild and Tanner have collaborated on a lyrical tale that will intrigue and engage readers of all ages. The language is simple without becoming simplistic, with a poetic repetition that mirrors the longing of the young girl. Tanner’s illustrations are atmospheric without becoming gloomy. She plays with the light and shadow of the black and white palette, while using a sea-foam green for the more mystical elements.
This book will appeal to all ages, although it’s probably a little too spooky for the very young. Teachers could use this text to discuss symbolism, layers of meaning and even ask their students to imagine the backstory of the ghost-girl and the reasons for her appearance on the beach.
Girl from the Sea was Notabled in the 2021 Book of the Year awards in the Picture Book Category.
Reviewed by Madeleine Crofts