Title: Girl from the Sea
Author: Margaret Wild
Illustrator: Jane Tanner
Published: May 2020
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
I received a copy of Girl from the Sea from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
A poetic ghost story with stunning images from two of Australia’s finest children’s book creators.
I wish. I wish. I wish it was me.
A lyrical masterpiece by Margaret Wild and Jane Tanner.
A good picture book combines the power of words and pictures to tell a story that transports you, and Girl from the Sea does that.
It’s actually a difficult book to describe – aside from its official blurb: a lyrical ghost story.
The narrator is the ghost of a young girl watching a family who lives in a cottage by the sea, dreaming of what life she could have led. It’s dark and haunting and deeply atmospheric, thanks entirely to the neutral collected illustrations that are very ‘ghostly’ to look at. Every page has a dreamlike quality that not only adds to the atmosphere but also to the readers empathy for the girl.
There’s definitely a lot of questions that it raises, not the least of which is who is the girl and how is she connected to the people who live in the cabin by the sea. I could speculate but I think, ultimately, the reader can draw their own conclusions. She could be a literal ghost, she could be a lost child or even the childhood aspect of one of the adult characters, lost to time. I don’t think it really matters apart from what it means to you as a reader.
The best books always leave room for interpretation.
This is definitely a great picture book that opens up discussion, and would be suited to older primary aged children.