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Young Abel and his mother, Dora, lead a peaceful, idyllic life by the sea in Australia. They live off the land and sea, taking no more than they need to survive, carefully husbanding the natural resources at their disposal. Abel's best friend is an enormous fish named Blueback. Time passes, Abel grows up, and he and his mother find it harder to protect Blueback and their "Robbers Bay" from unscrupulous fishermen and developers. Who will prevail in the end? Winton (The Riders, LJ 3/15/95) has imbued this slender tale with the air of an environmental parable, yet the tone is never preachy but contemplative. Recommended especially for environmental collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/97.]‘Kay Hogan, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham

This thin volume doesn't aspire to the mature complexity of the talented Australian author's The Rider. Though the language is lyrical, Winton pares it down, deliberately simplifying his prose in the service of a clearly articulated call for ecological responsibility. Abel Jackson lives in isolated area of Australia between a national park and the sea, where he helps his mother dive for abalone; his father is dead. When he's 10, he encounters a huge, magnificent blue grouper he names Blueback, a fish legendary for its cleverness and daring. Danger arrives in the form of a vicious fisherman whose predatory methods despoil the bay and put Blueback at risk. Though Abel's mother manages to drive the fisherman away, Abel learns that "there was nothing in nature as cruel and savage as a greedy human being." Over the years, unprincipled developers, pollution and other man-made disasters threaten the bay's pristine beauty before Abel's mother persuades legislators to declare the area a sanctuary. Abel, now a marine biologist, decides to abandon his international career to devote his life to the priceless natural domain where Blueback continues to swim‘and to bond with another generation of Jacksons. The book is perhaps more suitable for YA readers than adults, but Winton pulls deftly on the heartstrings as he narrates this quiet tale. (Mar.)

Gr 7 Up-Ever since he can remember, Abel Jackson has loved the sea. As the story opens, Abel and his widowed mother are living in Longboat Bay, a remote area of Australia. They make their living by diving for abalones, careful to take only what is needed from the sea. The story spans 27 years. At the age of 10, Abel plays and works hard with his mother. A giant, somewhat mystical blue grouper is their constant underwater companion. Both mother and son are fiercely protective of the sea and the surrounding habitat. As the story progresses, they confront a greedy over-fishing poacher and unscrupulous land developers. Abel grows up, goes away to university, and becomes a marine biologist in an attempt to learn even more about the secrets of the sea. He marries another marine biologist, becomes a father, and eventually returns home to take care of his aging mother. The cycle begins anew as Abel's daughter meets Blueback. Stig Wemyss's lively voice and Australian accent adds to the authenticity of Tom Winton's story (Scribner, 1998) and keeps it moving along. The strong message threaded throughout the story is the need to protect and preserve the sea, its resources, and the surrounding habitat.-Mary Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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