“Before I tell you about the biggest fish in the sea and how it tried to kill me and then ended up saving my life, first you got to know about the leaky boat, ‘cause it all began right there.” Now that is one great first sentence and it pulls you right into one glorious book. On the last day of school, 12-year-old Skiff Beaman comes home to find dad's fishing boat, the Mary Rose, sunk at the dock, with just the top of the cabin showing. Dad's no help. Since Skiff's mom died, Dad spends his time lying on the TV couch, sucking on his beer and staring at the cobwebs on the ceiling. Skiff’s nemesis, that miserable rotten rich kid, Tyler Croft, taunts him: "Good riddance. That wasn't a boat—it was an outhouse." Undaunted, Skiff raises the boat himself, and when he learns it will take $5,000 dollars to fix the engine, he gets to work setting lobster traps. There's a big fish in this story—a bluefin tuna that Skiff goes after. This is a realistic, gritty, heartstopping, testosterone-filled survival story that will make your readers look twice at the next tunafish sandwich they eat.
At home, you can make the obvious literary connections with Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself taking your kids on a fishing trip to the ocean, or at least to a lake near you.
Reviewed by JF.
Themes: ADVENTURE AND ADVENTURERS. DEATH. FATHERS. OCEAN.
Blue Sky Press, 2004
Suggested Ages: 10-14