Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry

Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Captain Swashby loves the sea, his oldest friend. And he loves his life by the sea just as it is: salty and sandy and serene.

One day, much to Swashby’s chagrin, a young girl and her granny commandeer the empty house next door. All Swashby wants is for his new neighbors to GO AWAY and take their ruckus with them.

When Swashby begins to leave notes in the sand for his noisy neighbors, however, the beach interferes with the messages that are getting across. Could it be that the captain’s oldest friend, the sea, knows what Swashby needs even better than he knows himself?

Kindness makes everything better.

I was pleasantly surprised by how funny this picture book was. It only grew funnier as the conflict between the characters continued. There is something to be said for looking for new ways to understand conflict and assuming the best in every character, including the ocean, when misunderstandings happen.

Captain Swashby was a quiet, harmless old man who craved peace and quiet. As much as I enjoyed the reminder to embrace change, I found myself wishing that his new neighbors had respected his privacy and his property. It wasn’t okay for them to use his deck without permission or be so noisy and disruptive on the beach they shared. If the narrator had acknowledged the mistakes Captain Swashby’s new neighbors made after they moved in I would have happily given this a much higher rating.

With that being said, I loved the way the main character adjusted to his new neighbors. He showed them a lot of kindness and grace even when they did things that were obviously out of order. They were also given a chance to adjust to Captain Swashby’s deeply introverted personality and find better ways to get to know him. This was a good example of how to find peaceful ways to coexist with other people and look for the good in them. That’s the sort of skill everyone should have no matter how old or young they are!

Swashby and the Sea made me smile.

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