When we immigrated to the UK my spouse and I bought our son a book about travelling in an aeroplane, and another about moving house, both published by Usborne. Reading them to him helped prepare him for the new experiences he would shortly be encountering. The Day the Sea Went Out and Never Came Back is a book like those, but less literal.
If Usborne had produced this book as part of their First Experiences series, they might have named it Rover the Dog Gets Run Over by a Bus.
Cuddling up and reading a bedtime story is one of the simple pleasures of having children, but Roadkill Rover is just not something you want to read your children at bedtime.
To be fair, I first read this book with completely misplaced expectations. The Helping Children with Feelings subtitle was not prominent and I was unaware of it before finishing the book. It is published by Speechmark which specialises in education and special needs books, including emotional and mental health issues.
It isn’t meant to be entertainment. It’s meant to help children deal with grief, and in that respect it does an excellent job and I highly recommend it.
I read it wrong, and it is with those mismatched expectations that the review continues.
Eric is a sand dragon who lives on the beach and absolutely adores the sea. He frolics in the waves, collects sea-shells, and has an incredible amount of fun.
The tide may draw the sea away each day, but it always brings it back reliably. Eric counts on the permanence and certainty of the sea.
One day the tide goes out. Way way out. Like a tsunami drawing the water up from the shore into a massive wave, but the massive wave never comes. The water just keeps going further and further away, until it is completely lost never to return.
Eric’s existence becomes so bleak, that the coast totally dries up and it begins to rain sand.
You might think a sand dragon may quite enjoy silica-based downpours, scattered sand-showers, and the occasional sandblast thunderstorm. Apparently this is not the case. Nobody enjoys such things.
The whole way through the book I kept thinking that Eric was getting a pretty crappy deal, but things would get better. Surely the author of a children’s book couldn’t be serious that the sea would never come back. Margot Sunderland, the author, is quite serious about this.
Eventually Eric shakes his massive depression with the help of a friend, and builds a pond as a memorial to the lost sea. The sea doesn’t come back but it is not forgotten.
Buy The Day the Sea Went out and Never Came Back