Where dreams of courage start...
A sea lapping up to a bed of cliffs...
“There’s a Sea in my Bedroom”, written by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Jane Tanner, is one of the most magical, endearing books a young child could ever read! It is one of those books which literally jumps out from the page, bringing joy and a sense of calm and hope.
As a child, I remember being absolutely captivated by the magic and thrill of this timeless ‘sea bound’ story. The glossy blue hues of the waves, the golden sand, the bright colours in David’s bedroom and the lively expressions on David’s face.
The central character, a young boy, was a real human boy His fears of the sea were described perfectly by Margaret the author. The illustrator Jane showed extreme talent in creating expressions on the page of being scared, showing glee and happiness.
The central theme of this story was around overriding fears, having courage, going on an adventure and paying homage to the great ocean. The humble and sweet words propel the story. The illustrations are absolutely amazing – a perfect accompaniment to simple yet meaningful descriptions. Margaret has done great justice to bringing to life a magical story of overcoming fear in an entertaining and fun way.
David liked collecting shells so it also introduced how gathering something of comfort and interest can provide great joy in a child’s life. Every page was ‘a clinch for the conch’, moving the story forward to a happy ending.
It also showed how that as a child and for a child, things actually seem bigger than what they are; all relative and commensurate to a child’s experience, joys and fears – and perhaps size. The bedroom being a space where a child can dream and feel safe, transported the child reader to a magical place where even the bedroom could seem larger than what it was. It showed the enormous power of imagination, when David stroked the seashell, saying “Come out sea, come out, I won’t hurt you”. The personification of the shell was something that brought enchantment to the page.
When the ocean is expelled from the seashell in a round, conch-like design, the magic of the page is indescribable. As a child, you know are going to experience very special!
This book, to this day, remains one of my favourite books and was a great bedtime story growing up. I have a copy in my collection that takes pride of place. As a homage to my love for the sea, there is also sea shell in my room – a reminder of nature, the great roar of the ocean, the soft whispers of an ageless motion and law. Listening to the seashell, like David did, brings us closer to the ocean – the whispers of a universal language of comforting ebbs and flows.
One of the last pages where David is in the sea, submerged and happy, is a very nice place to leave the story. He has conquered his fears. This page almost looked like a happy snap from a family album and perhaps, many families have these types of photos of beach outings, children in the waves, happy sea holidays.
The imagery used to merge his bedroom into a nature bed of ocean cliffs, sand and sea remains implanted on my memory ever since childhood. The three dimension feel to David’s bed converting itself to the great, mountainous cliff with a lovely golden hue, beautiful rock formations, ridges and swaying, green grass is breathtaking. Jane does an amazing job of showing different angles from the left and right.
The four dimensional feel to this book is simply stunning. Even though it is words, illustrations and paper, it has the power to transport you as a child and reader to actually feeling the sea, to feeling the joy of the great rush of the ocean, with ripples at your feet.
A great book or piece of writing is where the book or piece seems larger than what it really is, or lingers far beyond the last line or picture, or perhaps leave the reader wondering or pondering ‘what if’ or ‘what next’. That’s the power of the written word to make the ebb and flow of life more palatable.
As a children’s writer myself, and writing “The Crescent Carousel”, a magical bedtime story, the power of a good book for children can inspire, comfort, educate, and provide hope.
This classic book “There’s a Sea in my Bedroom” teaches that your imagination is as tideless and powerful as the sea! It should have pride of place in every library and on every bookshelf, next to a magical sea shell…