In a Village By the Sea was an unexpected treasure for me! Both the text and the illustrations are built around the basic “house that Jack built…” story structure:
In a fishing village by the sea
there is a small house.
In that house
high above the waves
is a kitchen.
In that kitchen…
The story builds from this slow, uneventful beginning, to a painted masterpiece by a cricket in the wall of this ordinary house, to circle around again to the fisherman lost in a storm at sea and the family who waits for him…in the house…in a village by the sea.
Taken by itself the text may seem bland, but when Muon Van’s words are combined with April Chu’s striking illustrations In a Village By the Sea comes vividly to life in this magnificent picture book. Not only would I use this as a read-aloud in a pre-school or primary classroom and at home, I would use it in older classrooms (3rd-6th Grade) to demonstrate, teach and create classic story structures using words or pictures–or both.