Book Review: A Friendly Town That's Almost Always by the Ocean (Secrets of Topsea) by Kir Fox, M. Shelley Coats, Rachel Sanson

A Friendly Town That's Almost Always by the Ocean is a middle grade novel written by Kir Fox, M. Shelley Coats. It was illustrated by Rachel Sanson. In Topsea the coves are bottomless and the pier has no end in sight. There's a high tide and a low tide and a vanishing tide. Dogs are a myth, but mermaids are totally real. And seaweed is the main ingredient in every meal-watch out, it might just start chewing you back!

New kid Davy definitely thinks Topsea is strange. His mom keeps saying they'll get used to life in their new town-it's just the way things are on the coast! But after his first day at Topsea School, Davy finds himself wondering: Why is his locker all the way at the bottom of the school swimming pool? Why can't anyone remember his name? (It's Davy!) And why does everyone act like all of this is normal?! Through newspaper articles, stories, surveys, notifications, and more, follow Davy and the rest of Ms. Grimalkin's fifth grade class through the weird world of Topsea. (Whatever you do, don't make eye contact with the rubber ducks.)

A Friendly Town That's Almost Always by the Ocean is a story that is not only about a very strange town, and the unusual activity in it. It is also about finding your interests and yourself. I like that Davy seems like a perfectly normal boy, just trying to deal with all the recent changes in his life and move forward. He needs to deal with the loss of his father, and moving to a new town- something that many will be able to relate to in one way or another. However, to make settling in a bit harder the town and school are more than a little odd. A school locker at the bottom of the swimming pool, creepy cats, odd classes, and dogs being a myth are only the start of the oddities. Normal problems like being heard when you are small and friends with bigger personalities, being believed when you like to exaggerate, and other friendship dynamics are all within the pages as well. The balance of mundane and ridiculous keep the story fun and forward moving while still getting to the heart of the matter with fitting in and friendships. The artwork adds an extra layer of fun and details to the story, engaging readers even further in the story. I think this will be a great read, and think it might appeal to struggling or reluctant readers as well as more advanced readers.

A Friendly Town That's Almost Always by the Ocean is a fun and quirky read. I enjoyed the odd little town and unique characters. I think I need to explore this series further.

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