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The Young man and the sea

by Rodman Philbrick


Book Review

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Publishers Weekly :

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Philbrick's (Freak the Mighty) evocative tale may tip the hat to Hemingway's classic through its clever title, as well as its clean, direct prose and minimal dialogue, but it has an ending more palatable to a young audience. The 12-year-old narrator wrestles with his own Great Fish and with a devastating loss. Skiff Beaman's beloved mother has recently passed away as the story opens, sending his fisherman father into an alcoholic ennui. While Skiff's father spends day and night on the couch, watching TV and drinking himself to sleep, the family's boat, Mary Rose (named for his mother), sinks at the dock. Skiff, who sees the boat as a symbol of his family, works feverishly to bail it out and mend the damages. But the engine repairs seem impossibly expensive. Young Skiff comes up with a plan to make money by catching lobster—until his nemesis sabotages the traps. Then he decides to follow his father's trade and harpoon a bluefin tuna. How the plucky hero takes to the sea in his small boat, determined to catch a monster fish and save both his father's boat and his pride makes for a suspenseful read, and culminates in a 70-plusâÇôpage action sequence that inspires awe for both man and nature. This thrilling and elegant book overflows with detail about life at sea, but will hold the interest of even the most stalwart landlubber. Ages 9-up. (Feb.)

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Book Review

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 5-8?A 12-year-old protagonist replaces Ernest Hemingway's elderly Santiago in this takeoff on the classic novelette, set this time in coastal Maine. Skiff has lost his mother and, since her death, his father, once a hardworking fisherman locally known for his skills with a harpoon, has sunken into such deep, beer-soaked despair that his son can't seem to rouse him off the couch. As Skiff tries to single-handedly stem the rising tide of slovenly decay threatening to swamp what's left of his family, he also must contend with Tyler Croft, a bullying rich kid who sabotages his efforts to get ahead. Things seem entirely hopeless until the day he sees a giant tuna hauled in from offshore and sold for a large sum as a source for premium sushi. The fish literally and symbolically embodies all of Skiff's ambitions for a better life, and he decides to try to catch one using just a 10-foot plywood boat and a harpoon created by his father. As in The Old Man and the Sea, the ensuing adventure is told through an inner dialogue, one in which Skiff sometimes imagines he is speaking to his mother. This excellent maritime bildungsroman has all of the makings of a juvenile classic: wide-open adventure, heart-pounding suspense, and just the right amount of tear-jerking pathos, all neatly wrapped up in an ending that?unlike its namesake's?is purely triumphant. A great read-aloud, a natural for classroom use, and a must-have for all collections.?Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.:

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