Welcome to Topsea, a coastal community that’s so unpredictable even the geography has a tendency to change. In Secrets of Topsea: A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always by the Ocean, young readers will discover a place that defies logic and reason, all through the eyes of an outsider just like them. There’s comedy, mystery, suspense, and flying pigs!
Davey and his mom are new to Topsea and shortly after arriving, he discovers the town’s unusual fascination with seaweed (and the seaweed’s unusual fascination with the town). From there, things just keep getting weirder, like his locker being located at the bottom of a swimming pool, the fact that nobody in town can get his name right, the way the boardwalk is seemingly endless, the creepy rock cats, the water park that is perpetually on the verge of opening but never does, and his basement’s basement.
Author’s Kir Fox and M.Shelley Coats have created a fun and interesting place for young readers. In several ways, it reminds me of Disney Channel’s Gravity Falls, ABC’s Lost, and classic Roald Dahl books like James and the Giant Peach. In between chapters, they occasionally provide relevant excerpts from “Everything You Need to Know About Topsea,” which Davey would have read if he could have retrieved it from his sunken locker. Issues of the school paper also occasionally separate chapters.
The narrative begins to shift slightly away from Davey as the story unfolds, allowing chapters to focus on some of his new friends, who are longtime residents of Topsea. Even for them, the town can sometimes be strange. For example, Quincy was unprepared when he decided to bake a cake on the same day as the town’s gravity maintenance. And sometimes the friends themselves are weird, such as Talise’s proclivity for scuba diving in bath tubs, where she often finds rubber ducks with their eyes rubbed off (the town has a strict policy on how to dispose of rubber ducks that still have their eyes).
Secrets of Topsea made me chuckle several times. It’s marvelously creative and original, the kind of book kids won’t want to put down. The great news is that this is the first in a series and one that I’m curious to follow. So grab a box of seaweed crackers and settle in for a fun read with Secrets of Topsea: A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always by the Ocean.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.