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Sea Change: 10/22/16

Sea Change by Frank Viva

In the United States when a character needs to get away from things or parents need a place to put their kid during a family crisis, people go to a farm on the plains or a cattle ranch in the southwest. In Canadian literature it seems to be Nova Scotia.

In Sea Change by Frank Viva, Eliot finds himself with his great-uncle in Point Aconi, Nova Scotia. His first day or so there is disastrous. He's no use when they go fishing. He can't jump off the boat to swim with the neighbors. The only thing he seems good at is shoveling chum.

But he slowly starts to fit in and the great-uncle begins to see some of himself in Eliot. It's one of those quiet summer stories about how a place changes a person and how a stranger can change a place.

But — the artwork and typography hinder the telling of the story. Viva uses primary colors and a naive style to draw his figures. Eliot and the others look like they were drawn on single takes with a digital pen tool as executed with bar of soap shaped mouse.

On nearly every page, along with the illustrations, are textual treatments. The words are made to incorporate into the illustrations — sort of as a freeform poetry. But again, the text is for the most part, rigid, just rotated or resized, resulting in a distraction, rather than a visual support for the story.

Two stars

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