The Village by the Sea

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Overview

When Emma's father goes to the hospital for surgery, she is sent to stay with Aunt Bea the "terror" and kindly Uncle Crispin. Emma wonders how she will survive two weeks with the always hostile Aunt Bea.

Luckily, Emma makes a friend, Bertie, and the two girls begin a project on the beach. Together they build tiny houses out of stones, shells, and all sorts of sea treasures. Here at the beach with Bertie, Emma finds comfort and friendship and ...

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Overview

When Emma's father goes to the hospital for surgery, she is sent to stay with Aunt Bea the "terror" and kindly Uncle Crispin. Emma wonders how she will survive two weeks with the always hostile Aunt Bea.

Luckily, Emma makes a friend, Bertie, and the two girls begin a project on the beach. Together they build tiny houses out of stones, shells, and all sorts of sea treasures. Here at the beach with Bertie, Emma finds comfort and friendship and takes pride in her carefully planned village.

Then one day Emma and Bertie's village is destroyed...

When her father enters the hospital to have open-heart surgery, ten-year-old Emma is sent to Peconic Bay to live with her tormented aunt and finds the experience painful until she meets a friend who suggests making a miniature village in the sand.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Emma, 10, is sent to stay with her aunt and uncle during her father's bypass surgery. With her constant, caustic jibes and her sudden, braying laugh, Aunt Bea lives up to her reputation as a ``terror''; in Emma's words, ``Aunt Bea's remarks about people were like being punched in the same spot over and over again.'' Emma overhears exchanges that reveal Bea's history as an alcoholic; she is perceptive enough to recognize her Uncle Crispin's fear of a relapse, to note occasional chinks in Bea's armor and to grasp that Bea has developed the habit of resentment``a kind of addiction, too.'' Acting out her malice, Bea destroys Emma's sole object of pleasure during her visita miniature village built with her friend Bertie from material scavenged on the beachand Emma departs with a hot lump of hatred in her throat. Her hatred dissolves, however, upon finding evidence of her aunt's bitter, sad self-knowledge; in its place comes a measure of understanding and the ability to take her first untroubled breath in days. Fox's mastery of characterization is fully apparent in this quiet but intensely affecting story. She deftly draws us into Emma's experience, perfectly capturing the simultaneous naivete and wisdom with which Emma regards the puzzle that is her aunt. Using simple but telling imagery and beautifully lucid prose, she traces the associative, instinctively hopeful workings of a child's mind. Equally remarkable are the nuances with which Fox renders the acerbic, seemingly impenetrable Bea. Her portrayal compels readers to consider the tragic consequences of such acrimonyto wonder, as Emma does, what it would be like ``to be a person people were happy not to see,'' and ultimately to share in the subtle but redemptive compassion that is among the novel's finest achievements. A Richard Jackson Book. Ages 10-12. (September)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531057889
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/1988
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Paula Fox
After surviving a chaotic childhood in the U.S. and Cuba and giving up her own daughter for adoption at age 20, Paula Fox went on to pen award-winning children's books and a series of acclaimed novels. Today, she is enjoying a kind of literary renaissance as her work is hailed by contemporary writers including Jonathan Franzen.

Biography

Paula Fox is the author of one previous memoir, Borrowed Finery, and six novels, including Desperate Characters, The Widow's Children, and Poor George. She is also a Newbery Award–winning children's book author. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Author biography courtesy of Henry Holt and Company.

Good To Know

In our interview, Fox shared some fun facts about herself:

"My first job was working in a dress shop in Los Angeles in 1940, for $7 a week."

"I like to cook; it is, for me, a happy combination of mindlessness and purpose."

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    1. Hometown:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 22, 1923
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Attended Columbia University

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2004

    Very good book.

    Emma and Bertie were very good friends that made a village out of shells. Uncle Crispin was a kind of person that loved and complamented everyone. Hovever, he loved to drink alcohol a lot. Aunt Bea was addicted to beer a lot also. then in the middle of the book the village got distroied. But were they the ones who distroied it. Read it. This book was very exciting.

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