Shark Beneath the Reef

( 5 )

Overview

Like his father and grandfather before him, 14-year-old Tomás Torres dreams of catching a great shark in the Sea of Cortez — and he will catch it, although there are other things he should be thinking about. With an education, her could someday become a marine biologist. Tomás's family want him to stay in school. But Tomás knows he will be more help to them if he leaves school now to become a fisherman.
Should he drop out?
The choice is Tomás ...

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Overview

Like his father and grandfather before him, 14-year-old Tomás Torres dreams of catching a great shark in the Sea of Cortez — and he will catch it, although there are other things he should be thinking about. With an education, her could someday become a marine biologist. Tomás's family want him to stay in school. But Tomás knows he will be more help to them if he leaves school now to become a fisherman.
Should he drop out?
The choice is Tomás alone — a difficult one for a boy just becoming a man. It is only underwear, in a confrontation with the fisherman's greatest prize and worst enemy, that Tomás finds the strength to make his decision.

On the Island of Coronado, a young Mexican fisherman comes of age as he becomes aware of the politics, corruption, and changes around him.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064403085
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/1991
  • Series: A Trophy Bk.
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 956,118
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Craighead George wrote over one hundred books for children and young adults. Her novel Julie of the Wolves won the Newbery Medal in 1973, and she received a 1960 Newbery Honor for My Side of the Mountain. She continued to write acclaimed picture books that celebrate the natural world. Her other books with Wendell Minor include The Wolves Are Back; Luck; Everglades; Arctic Son; Morning, Noon, and Night; and Galapagos George.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A Round, Black Eye

A thump and kersplash awoke Tomás Torres. He blinked his eyes and listened. Thump, kersplash. It was five A.M. His pelican alarm clock was going off. The brown pelicans were up. They were diving into the sea in the blue darkness, plunging headfirst to scoop up fish in their enormous beaks with nets of skin. On the fourth kersplash Tomás rolled to his feet. Yawning, be stepped naked from the palapa, an architectural wonder of palo blanco tree posts gracefully roofed and walled with palm leaves. He heard the deep, soft breathing of his grandfather and uncle, still asleep on the sandy floor of their airy palapa house.

Tomás strode out of the palm porch and looked from the island of Coronados, where be stood, across the Sea of Cortez to the peninsula of Baia California, Mexico, a mountain range in the sea that is the toe of the Rockies. The mountains stretched north and south from horizon to horizon, and in the low light they looked like a gargantuan cutout of a jaw of shark's teeth. Above them stars shone as bright as fire. The sun would not be up for an hour. Tomás ran down the white coral beach to the water.

"Good morning," he called to the pelicans. Wading up to his waist, he took a breath and dived into water as clear as air. With the grace of a sea lion Tomás sped through a crowd of awakening fish that were beginning to school up for the day. Near the bottom he rolled onto his back and looked up. Above him darted a flock of little diving birds. They swam in spurtsand dashes as they chased fish. Tomás shot to the surface.

"Excuse me!" he said to the tidy eared grebes as he exploded into their midst. Unabashed, the small loonlike birds swam closer to him. "Go home to your pools in the United States," he said. "This is my cove."

Tomás laughed from his belly to his eyes, a laugh so joyful it often turned people's heads to see who could be so happy. He lunged to catch a grebe. When it dived, he began counting. The bird did not pop up to breathe for two whole minutes.

"I wish I could stay down as long as you can," he said as the grebe paddled toward him, head underwater, looking for fish. When it dived again, Tomás swam with it into the night-filled depths of the cove waters.

One, two, three, he began. At fifty-five he burst to the surface. The bird was still underwater. "If I could hold my breath as long as you," he went on, "I could catch the whale shark my uncle saw, the one that tore my grandfather's net."

The net lay on the beach not far from the palapa, like a cobweb torn by an eagle. Tomás flipped onto his back and kicked toward shore.

I would jab him in the heart, he thought, and bring him up on my spear. I can do it. I will carry the shark above my head through the streets of Loreto. The mission bells will ring. The padre will say, "Good has won over evil." The fishermen of Loreto will sing, "Toma's is brave. Tomás is strong. He killed the net ripper." The fishermen will dance and sing and feast for ten days and ten nights.

Sucking in a mouthful of water, he squirted it high in the air, then rolled to his stomach and stabbed an imaginary shark.

I can get him, his thoughts went on, because the monster isn't a killer shark. He's a whale shark. Uncle Miguel saw him come up out of the deep water where whale sharks live. He saw him swim toward Coronados Island. Whale sharks are slow and dumb. They can't even catch a sea slug. I'll, spear him easily.

A round eye as black as the center of the earth peered through the clear water at him. It bung near the indigo edge of the rock reef and was separated from the other eye by three feet of cartilage, muscle and skin. Tomás's scent traveled to the smelling lobe of the brain through nostrils located under the eyes. The scent of hundreds of terrified fish also traveled to that brain. The sound of Tomás's kicking was received through the skin and the nerves on either side of the long dark body. The round, black eye enlarged and quivered with excitement.

Tomás did not know be was targeted. He was lying on his back, kicking with his feet, sculling with his hands and daydreaming In his dream he was carrying the shark into the plaza in front of the old mission in his hometown of Loreto, once the capital of Baia California. Tomás's small, compact body moved gracefully in his dream suit of spun gold. He wore a helmet decorated with the long gold feathers of the quetzal bird. It was a helmet like Quetzalcoatl's, Tomás's hero and a god-hero of the ancient Aztec and Toltec Indians of Mexico.

Quetzalcoatl, he called in his dream. Help me lift the shark.

Although Tomás Torres went to the Catholic church, the gods of his Indian past were still very real to him and his family. He was, like most Mexicans, a mestizo, part Spanish and part Indian. And although Spanish was his native language and Spain his motherland, Tomás's memory — like that of his fellow mestizos — did not begin with the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico. It went back to the glorious Mexican past, when gods of good and evil reigned and warriors were eagles, jaguars and feathered serpents — to a time when Mexico was young and ambitious.

Tomás's kicked toward the white beach, racing away from the dark water where the eye watched him.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 27, 2009

    book review by Cameron Wilson

    Book Review Outline
    Book title and author: Shark Beneath the Reef by Jean Craighead George
    Title of review:
    Number of stars (1 to 5):4

    Introduction
    This book is about a kid who hears about a shark killing many people in his hometown and he goes through many obstacles to try and kill the shark so the people of his village can go swimming.

    Description and summary of main points
    Ramon hears from people in the village that many people are getting killed by this shark. So he doesn't believe until one day one of his friends Tomas is swimming with him and a big shark kills him. So every day when he goes to the ocean he brings a spear with him and goes on a hunt to try to kill the shark.

    Evaluation
    I really liked the book because it had a lot of action. I liked how it had to with the ocean and how it really explained the landscape so it seemed liked you where there and you could picture everything in your mind. And you just wanted to keep reading the book because it you wanted to see if he actually killed the shark or if he gets killed.

    Conclusion
    Ramon hears from people in the village that many people are getting killed by this shark. So he doesn't believe until one day one of his friends Tomas is swimming with him and a big shark kills him. So every day when he goes to the ocean he brings a spear with him and goes on a hunt to try to kill the shark. And I really liked how it had so much action. I truly enjoyed the book and I hope that you end up reading the book because Im sure that you will like the book too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2008

    Fisherman or Marine Biologist

    The book The Shark Beneath the Reef is about a family in Baja California, and one of the kids in the family just finished 8th grade and has all summer to decide whether or not if he wants to continue school or become a fisherman with his grandpa and uncle. One day as Tomas (the kid) goes with his grandpa and uncle, he dives into a reef and looks at all of the wonderful sea creatures. On one of his dives, he sees a shark about ten feet long. He did not get a good look, but he believes that it is a whale shark. Around this time there are a lot of Japanese fishing company boats that are taking all of the fish which makes it hard for Tomas¿ to catch fish to make money fishing. Therefore, to help his family out he plans to try to catch the shark and sell it for a lot of money. Now will Tomas catch the shark, and will he become a fisherman or a marine biologist. Read and find out. Two things that I liked about the book is that it had a great plot and one of Tomas¿ friends José makes fireworks that are really big. Several things that I didn¿t like about the book is that it talked too much about their holidays and not about fishing, also it took too long to get to the exciting parts. In addition, I really did not like how it ended. I would recommend this book to people that like books about sharks or fish, and are patient readers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2007

    Good book for children to read.

    It was very fun to read, and it opened my eyes to how a young poor boy saw his life and how he had to grow up fast.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2004

    This is definately NOT the best book in the world...

    This book is not very good at all. It is a boy who swims with sharks and that is ALL that is interesting. It is so dry, that I fell asleep during the fist page. Literally , which is pretty sad. It is not a book that I would recamend at all!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2001

    I think people who are ito oceanography and sharks would like this book.

    I am reading Shark Beneath the Rerf with my languge arts class and we are almost done with it. As I said before we are not yet finished, but right now I would rate it 2 stars. Another thing I said was that if you are into oceanography/sharks or even both you would really enjoy this book. It is about this boy named Tomas, and he swims with the sharks.

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