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Samuel Skiff Beaman, Jr., is twelve years old and small for his age; but he carries a lot of responsibility. Since his mother died, his father doesnt do much except drink beer and watch TV. Even when the familys fishing boat sinks on the last day of school, Big Skiff doesnt lift a finger. So its up to Little Skiff to raise the sunken Mary Rose and repair the damage to her hull. Then he sets out to earn enough money to rebuild her diesel engine by single-handedly fishing 200 lobster traps in a 10-foot skiff, powered by a 5-horsepower motor.
This is a slow, strenuous way of making the thousands of dollars he needs. And even that method goes down the drain when a mean rich kid cuts the lines on most of Skiffs lobster traps. But he soon figures out a way to make all the money he needs–fast. All he has to do is motor his skiff to the ocean ledge, 30 miles out from shore, harpoon a giant blue tuna, and bring it home fresh to sell the meat to a Japanese fish buyer. You can get a lot of Grade-A sushi out of one giant tuna.
So, before he can think about it enough to talk himself out of it, Skiff steals a harpoon from a nice old man (a harpoon his father made in the good old days), fuels up his skiff, chucks in a few other supplies, and motors out under cover of night. During the next twenty-four hours, Skiff faces many dangers, his own fear and grief, and a fish bigger than his boat.
Skiffs experience is a moving tale of survival, courage, and determination to make things better for his father and himself. Told in the grammatically incorrect Maine twang of its protagonist, the story is filled with down-to-earth poetry and a fierce love of the sea. Plus, the giant tuna is such a marvelous, mighty creature, you will never again look at a can of “Chunk Light in Spring Water” the same way.
Recommended Age: 12+