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The Specific Ocean

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  207 ratings  ·  57 reviews
In this gently told picture book, a young girl is unhappy about having to leave the city for a family vacation on the Pacific Ocean (which she used to call the Specific Ocean). As the days pass, however, she is drawn to spend more time in and near the water, feeling moved by its beauty and rhythms. “The ocean does its own thing, rolling backward and forward. Wash, swash, s ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 1st 2015 by Kids Can Press
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3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  207 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am a pretty enthusiastic fan of Kyo Maclear's children's books. I was sure her earlier books–Julia, Child and Virginia Wolf–would be hard to live up to when I read that she had another book in the works. Of course, I was wrong.

In The Specific Ocean, a young girl is not excited about spending the summer away from home with her family in a vacation house by the Pacific Ocean. When she finally succumbs to the ocean's charm, she tries to imagine ways to take it back home with her.

 photo image_zpslqwp66w3.jpeg

Kyo's books are
David Schaafsma
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
A sweet, subtle, lyrical, and pastel-washed story (illustrated by Katty Maurey) about a girl who doesn't want to go on vacation but gradually, eventually, falls in love with the ocean. I read it because I had read her quirkier and a little bit amusing Virginia Wolf; this one is serious and straightforwardly lovely.
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A young girl doesn't want to leave her city friends to vacation with her family at the Pacific Ocean. She even writes up a moping schedule where she allocates time to watch the dust, play chess by herself and stare at the wall. By the third day she grumpily goes down to the ocean with her family. Over the summer vacation, the young girl's view of the ocean and her moods changes from moping and grumpy to excited and longing. When she returns home, she realizes that "no matter where I am, this spe ...more
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I'm so glad there is room in the world for all kinds of picture books, the snappy funny ones and the ones like this: lyrical, beautiful, full of true feelings.

Michelle (FabBookReviews)

A quiet book, such as The Specific Ocean, can be just as moving, as feeling, and as sensory as a loud or demonstrative book. I have long been a fan of Kyo Maclear; author of terrific picture books like Virginia Wolf, Spork and Julia, Child. In this latest picture book, she has teamed up with Katty Maurey, illustrator of Francis, the Little Fox, whose work reminds me a bit of Giselle Potter, Carson Ellis and Isabelle Arsenault (all incredible artists).

There is so much to enjoy with The Specific O
Kailey (BooksforMKs)
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This sweetly quiet story of a little girl who slowly falls in love with the Pacific Ocean brought me a sense of wonder! At the beginning the girl is reluctant to get in the water, but she gradually comes to love playing in and around the ocean. Her dreamy observations and imaginings around the seaside are just lovely, and bring the reader immediately into the story. You can taste that salt air and feel the waves pulling at your feet!

The writing is absolutely brilliant! Every word is tailored per
Amy Rae
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm not the slightest bit surprised that Kyo Maclear's latest is marvelous. One need only take a look at Virginia Wolf and Julia, Child to know that her work is utterly darling. But The Specific Ocean is especially great, a meditative story about learning to love the ocean over the course of a summer vacation.

It feels like a child-sized version of This One Summer, tone-wise. Maclear teases out delicate feelings over the course of the book and presents refreshingly mature, nuanced views of owners
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-read-books
The Specific Ocean follows the simple but endearing story of a young girl who goes on vacation on the Pacific Ocean. As the story unfolds, her initial indifference to the ocean turns to a growing fondness as she discovers its hidden beauties.

In terms of plot, you could say that there isn't much happening, but there also lies the charm of this simple but poetic book. Within slightly more than 30 pages, the gorgeous illustrations and the lyrical prose offers a story that will leave the reader wit
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Wow. Predictable in the best possible way. The transformation of the girl's attitude towards the ocean is spellbinding and feels like an accurate portrait of how someone falls in love with something like the ocean.
This is a relatively simple story, beautifully told and illustrated. It would be ideal to read on a beach next to a sea or ocean but engenders that feeling even when you’re some distance away. The descriptions are succinct, yet simple and emotive, taking the reader on a journey with the characters. It is easy to empathise with the little girl and to feel how her view of the ocean changes from resentful to love during the course of her holiday. The illustrations are pastel shades but so evocative ...more
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A girl does not want to leaver her friends behind in the city and head off for summer vacation. There’s nothing to do in the little house near the ocean that she used to call The Specific Ocean instead of the Pacific. She starts out with a moping schedule and refuses to head to the water. The next day though, she does go down with her family and the water is cold but it also has warm spots. The next day, she races her brother down to the beach. They spend time floating in the waves, walking alon ...more
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Quiet story for old souls. Highly recommended for ages 5-7.
Mark Holtzen
Christine Turner
Mar 22, 2016 added it
Shelves: sea, ocean
In this gently told picture book, a young girl is unhappy about having to leave the city for a family vacation on the Pacific Ocean (which she used to call the Specific Ocean). As the days pass, however, she is drawn to spend more time in and near the water, feeling moved by its beauty and rhythms. ?The ocean does its own thing, rolling backward and forward. Wash, swash, splush, hush. There is no late or hurry or racing in ocean time.' By the end of the vacation, the girl has grown to love the o ...more
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Received from NetGalley for review.

'No matter where I am, this specific ocean will be with me.'

The Specific Ocean is an adorable story for children, about a young girl who goes on holiday to a cabin near the Pacific Ocean with her family. At first she doesn’t want to be there and is convinced it will be a boring holiday, until she reluctantly goes down to the sea with her family and realises how vast and entrancing it can be.

The drawings are delightful – utilising a calm palette of blues, gre
Jess at Such a Novel Idea
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

Wow, this was a gorgeous book, inside and out. I was really, really impressed by the emotion and depth it carried through its story (no, no pun intended that time).

At first I was weary to pick a book called 'The Specific Ocean', but I really loved her explanation about it and her idea that there can be something said outloud and something you call it in your head. I do this SO often, so the sentiment shocked me.

You c
Carla Johnson-Hicks
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The Specific Ocean follows the simple story of a young girl who goes on vacation to a small house the coast of the Pacific Ocean. In the beginning, she does not want to go to the ocean. Her brother and mother try to get her to go down to the beach but she stubbornly refused. The second day her mother takes her by the hand and she reluctantly gets in the water. Each day she falls a little bit more in love with the ocean. As her time there is nearing an end, she asks her brother about taking some ...more
Erin Moses
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
“The Specific Ocean” tells of a girl who was reluctant to go on vacation with her family. She did not want to visit the ocean. When she finally was convinced to explore the water and the beach, she came to love it. So much so that she wanted to take the ocean home with her. Realizing she does not need to take the water with her, the girl will always remember the summer spent at the ocean.


Have students recall a place that is special to them. Whether it be a place they visited with family
Ramon Requena
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 230
This book follows a girl who is on a trip to a beach house with her family. She does not like this location, but throughout the book she grows to love and understand how it connects to her life. This book has beautiful scenery and an interesting story of self-understanding.
The media in this book is soft water-paint combined with colored pencils. This creates a flowing image in each page and contrasts well with the words for reading. The art in the book is relaxing, as with the writing of the st
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
The Specific Ocean is a beautiful book about a girl who slowly comes to love the Ocean. She does not want to leave her city home and friends to go on a vacation to a beach house on the Pacific Ocean. She is dismal when she arrives, saying everything is boring; however once she sets foot in the Ocean, her senses come alive and she cannot let go.

With lyrical, but simple beauty, the sense of wonder for the ocean is awakened for a young girl. Through opening your emotions, the sights, smells and so
Becky B
Sep 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Though she protests going at first, a girl soon learns to love their Pacific Ocean vacation site and her time there.

Calm and peaceful illustrations really work in conveying a peaceful seaside retreat and how that can make someone feel. The story itself isn't anything amazing or new, but it is very relatable. All of us have those times when we're being taken somewhere and we just don't feel it. (One of my sisters went through a period of time as a toddler when she'd chant "I hate to go! I hate to
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-pdf
"There is no late or hurry or racing in ocean time."

This story follows a little girl who goes on a family vacation to the Pacific Ocean. At first, she is upset, but she slowly comes around and grows to love the Ocean and everything in it.

I liked the pacing of the writing. I feel like so many children's books just have made up words jumping out at you from the page. This was mellow and had real writing. I got a similar feeling from the artwork--it was nice and calm and captured the different mood
Mpur Chan
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
A city young girl goes on vacation to a small house near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with her family. Leaving her friends behind, she feels sad. In the beginning, she doesn't want to go to the ocean. All of her family members try to get her to go down the beach. But, she refused. But, in the second day, she realized that the ocean can change her perspectives as she begins to fall in love with the ocean.

The story can be simple. But, it is supported by the awesome illustration. That's appealing
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
I received an electronic copy of this book in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

This book was beautiful. As a lover of the ocean, this book called out to me. I had to request it. I suspected (and was right!) that this is about the pacific ocean. The detail the author writes with made it feel like I was there. The young girl in this story, who hates being away from the city at it's start, hates it when it's time to leave. The pictures are beautifully done. Very calming. Really
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a quiet book of a girl and the ocean. She was reluctant for the vacation, and gradually fall in love with ocean. Learned that peace and calm.

The language used in this book is poetic yet straightforward, just like a friend telling you her experience. True and touching. Love Kyo's book, always have something deep from its face value it presents.

The illustration used pastel like palette and minimum strokes. The lines are expressive. Need some work on choosing the right scene for each page
Jul 29, 2015 rated it liked it
It's amazing how you can almost see the texture of the art that this book contains. It's nearly enough to make it worth checking it out just for that but then you begin to take in the story. The resistance at first but then just giving in to the magic and wonders of the ocean is wonderful to witness.

At the beginning I wished the font was a bit different because I enjoy the variety of typography that picture books offer but I think what was chosen ended up fitting the feel of it perfectly.

Sarah Sammis
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A few of my favorite quotes from the book are:
The ocean is a mystery of mysteries.
If people ask, I'll tell them the ocean is full of noises. Then I'll tell them that if they listen very carefully, they might even hear the ocean in their own breath.
The ocean is so big that it makes every thought and worry I have shrink and scatter.
There is no late or hurry or racing in ocean time.
Jan 19, 2017 rated it liked it
The illustrations were beautiful. The text didn't flow well though. The move from ennuie regarding the little girl's seaside visit to captivation is without nuance, To sudden given how deep her resistance is. That said, there are some lovely lines, almost poetic, of young understanding, unjaded views.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
When a young girl is dreading a vacation by the ocean she soon changes her mind when she plunges in. As she learns about the beauty around her she realizes this one-of-a-kind place is big enough for two names. A great story to share with children age’s four to eight who love to learn about the world.
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A beautiful, quiet story about a child's vacation at the ocean. At first, she is reluctant to leave her home in the city for the "boring" ocean, but once she arrives she slowly learns to explore and love the Pacific (which she secretly calls "specific") Ocean. I appreciated the subtle narrative about ocean conservancy within the book.
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Kyo Maclear is a children’s author, novelist and essayist. She was born in London, England and moved to Toronto at the age of four.

Kyo is the author of several critically-acclaimed children’s books including: Spork (2010) and Virginia Wolf (2012), both illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault; Mr. Flux (2013), illustrated by Matte Stephens; Julia, Child (2014), illustrated by Julie Morstad; The Specific