Books to Read Aloud – The Two Worlds of Davy Blount

Like most kids, our boys have a hankering for the beach. Born out of several years of summer vacations ranging from Virginia Beach to Hilton Head – and one memorable winter vacation in Florida – their young minds are full of wonderful seaside impressions: shells, sand, wind, tide, shark teeth, family gatherings, resort pools, beach houses, unlimited Netflix. But what if they had grown up beside the ocean, and it was the mountains that seemed novel and exotic?

That’s the situation of the main character of The Two Worlds of Davy Blount, and the book centers around the contrast between those two worlds – the mountains and the sea. Davy, born and raised on the Outer Banks, loves the ocean and adventuring in his grandfather’s fishing trawler. But his grandmother, Bank dweller though she is, grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains far away to the west. One summer she hatches a scheme to get her grandson to fall in love with the mountains: send him away to spend a summer vacation with her mountain kinfolk.

The book deftly explores the distinctive beauties of both regions. This is the best and most striking aspect of the book. The author is clearly well acquainted and fond of both ends of her state: sea and mountain scenes are both well developed and full of thoughtful but not belabored descriptions. Being somewhat familiar with both areas, I found the contrasts even more interesting. 

That’s not the only pleasure of this book. The characters are unique, fascinating, and well portrayed; there are engaging (if not too suspenseful) adventures both at sea and in the mountains, and an interesting riddle that carries it right up to the last page. Though there are a few places where the pace slows, the momentum of the larger plot carries it through. Overall this book was the perfect speed for my kids. Being mildly interested in geography, the descriptions of the varied landscapes (and seascapes) didn’t bore them, and the adventures and quirky characters easily kept them engaged throughout.

If you haven’t heard of this book, you’re not alone: it’s not widely known and it appears to be somewhat rare to find. My wife found it at a thrift store and with no prior background decided to give it a try, and it was a great success; both the kids and I enjoyed it. In the final analysis, this book affirms with skillful storytelling that both the mountains and the sea – and the people that call them each home – are special. And while it may not resolve any intra-family arguments, it might make your family appreciate both worlds a little more.

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Tim Carr

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