The Specific Ocean

illus. by Katty Maurey. 32p. Kids Can. Aug. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781894786355.
K-Gr 3—A young girl doesn't want to leave her friends in the city for a summer vacation with her family at the ocean. But she goes, and after a few days of moping, she discovers the wonders of the sea and then only reluctantly departs at vacation's end. Together, she and her brother swim and watch the waves as they "shine, shimmer, gleam, glow. The ocean is so big that it makes every thought and worry I have shrink and scatter." The unnamed girl narrates her experience and changing moods in lyrical, sophisticated language. Initially she misunderstood the name to be the Specific rather than Pacific Ocean. But she realizes that the experience of being at the sea has changed her, and she's confident that she will carry this specific ocean with her: "Calm. Blue. Ruffled. Gray. Playful. Green. Mysterious," not unlike her feelings. Mixed-media illustrations use soft lines and a muted palette for an almost ethereal effect, successfully evoking the ocean and its wonders.
VERDICT Though not for everyone, this is a handsome, evocative look at one child's formative experience.

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