A summer spent in a remote fishing village in Nova Scotia proves to be transformative.
Twelve-year-old Italian-Canadian Eliot Dionisi is horrified by his parents’ decision to send him to relatives in Point Aconi, Nova Scotia, for the summer. Who can blame a boy from the suburbs for being unenthusiastic about rising at the crack of dawn, filling bait buckets with maggots, and dodging local bullies? It doesn’t take him long to discover, however, that Point Aconi has its consolations, especially his friendship with a local girl, Mary Beth. Author/illustrator Viva’s picture-book roots (Outstanding in the Rain, 2015, etc.) are evident in his first foray into middle-grade fiction. The plentiful illustrations have a slightly retro palette of marine blue, pale yellow, salmon, and black that suits the story’s nostalgic setting. In addition, playful typography weaves the art and story together in unexpected ways. A slanting sentence provides a clothesline for a row of drying fish; uneven lines of light text in varied sizes on a black background convey the twinkling of a starry night. The inventive visuals reward careful attention, but the understated coming-of-age story is awfully slow-moving for preteens. Meanwhile, teens and adults may wish the themes and characters were explored in greater depth and detail.
Offer this hybrid to readers with the patience to appreciate its unhurried pace. (Historical/graphic fiction hybrid. 11 & up)