The Young Man and the Sea

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Skiff Beaman is 12 years old, his mom just died, and his fisherman dad is too depressed to drag himself off the couch and go to work. So these days Skiff has to take care of everything himself and must try to catch the monster fish of the sea - the bluefin tuna.

After his mother's death, twelve-year-old Skiff Beaman decides that it is up to him to earn money to take care of himself and his father, so he undertakes a dangerous trip alone out on the ocean off the ...

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The Young Man And The Sea

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Skiff Beaman is 12 years old, his mom just died, and his fisherman dad is too depressed to drag himself off the couch and go to work. So these days Skiff has to take care of everything himself and must try to catch the monster fish of the sea - the bluefin tuna.

After his mother's death, twelve-year-old Skiff Beaman decides that it is up to him to earn money to take care of himself and his father, so he undertakes a dangerous trip alone out on the ocean off the coast of Maine to try to catch a huge bluefin tuna.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
After Skiff's mom dies, his dad's life revolves around draining six-packs and sleeping them off on "the TV couch." But Skiff is a survivor, and when his family's fishing boat sinks due to neglect, he kicks into action. This likable boy is a model of self-sufficiency as he goes about lobstering and, yes, battling a giant fish ala Hemingway in the pursuit of a new boat engine and a return to normal family life. (Ages 8 to 12)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Publishers Weekly
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-plus-page 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.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From The Critics
Twelve-year-old Samuel "Skiff" Beaman Jr. is a determined young man trying to survive after his mother's recent death. Skiff is forced to become an adult as he desperately tries to get his father to get back into the family fishing business. Skiff raises the Mary Rose after it sunk with the help of a kindly old man, Mr. Woodwell. Amos Woodwell instructs Skiff as how to raise the boat and once done, proceeds to do the necessary repairs but does not have the money to repair the diesel motor. Skiff decides to earn money trapping lobsters for the repairs on Mary Rose. One day he sees an amateur fisherman who caught a large tuna. Samuel makes the decision to solve his financial problems by going after tuna. Twenty-five miles out to sea, he runs into thick fog and realizes he has forgotten a fog horn. He makes the best of his situation by putting out baits for the tuna. He is ready to head home after his realizes his foolish mistakes of not taking enough bait and not being as prepared as he should have been. 2004, Blue Sky Press (imprint of Scholastic), 192 pp., Ages young adult.
—Jo Ann Yazzie
This is a great adventure; a fishing story, a survival story; it will appeal to readers of Paulsen's Hatchet series, to Boy Scouts, and to others interested in outdoor skills. It is told by a narrator, Skiff, in the present tense, with an immediacy that makes the reader think he is talking into a tape recorder as the action is unfolding. Skiff is 12 years old and his mother has recently died. He and his father live simply on the Atlantic coast, in the Northeast. Skiff's father seems to have given up on life, drinking beer and lying on the sofa. Skiff has plans to spend the summer fishing to get some money to restore the old motor on their fishing boat. He has the use of a little 10-foot skiff and his first plan is to set out lobster pots and sell the lobsters. This plan is cruelly thwarted by sabotage inflicted by a bullying rich kid who knows Skiff and taunts him constantly. Then Skiff gets the idea to take a harpoon his father once made, go out on the little skiff, and catch a blue fin tuna-selling it to a Japanese man who flies the tuna overnight to Japan to use as sushi. A large tuna can solve Skiff's money problems; it would sell for enough money to fix the engine. There's fog out there, 25 miles offshore, and Skiff can hardly see a thing. But after hours of putting chum in the water feeding the little fish, he sees a huge tuna, he manages to get the harpoon into it, and the "Nantucket sleigh ride" begins, as the large fish pulls Skiff and the little boat through the water. Skiff never gives up. In times of great crisis, he hears the voice of his dead mother in his head, encouraging him to survive. The details of this adventure are riveting, as are the step-by-stepdescriptions of how Skiff accomplishes the tasks he takes on. We know Philbrick's fine writing from Freak the Mighty and The Last Book in the Universe. KLIATT Codes: J*-Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 2004, Scholastic, Blue Sky Press, 191p., Ages 12 to 15.
— Claire Rosser
Children's Literature
Skiff Beaman, a twelve-year-old boating enthusiast, faces challenges everywhere he turns. The death of his mother drives Skiff into a lonely state and drives his father to alcohol. Besides trouble at home, a hole on the deck of the Mary Rose, the Beaman family boat, makes trouble for young Skiff. To make matters worse, a menacing nemesis cuts the giant nets designed to both catch lobsters and to make Skiff money to fix the boat. Without assistance to restore the boat, Skiff seeks the expertise of local boatman, Amos Woodwell. Not only does Skiff get Mr. Woodwell's verbal instructions to fix the boat, he also finds an unlikely friend in Mr. Woodwell. The endless repairs to the Mary Rose and the fact that Skiff is physically working on it alone lead him to a seemingly brilliant idea to catch an enormous bluefin tuna and thereby make enough money to hire a repairman to fix the boat. Can Skiff succeed at such an enormous feat, even against overwhelming odds? Rodman Philbrick provides a suspenseful yet heartwarming tale that conveys the theme of determination in the face of adversity. With short chapters, it is perfect for middle readers or those with relatively short attention spans. Its detailed descriptions and its unique style make it a perfect book to read aloud in class or independently at home. 2004, The Blue Sky Press/Scholastic Inc, Ages 9 up.
—Lindsey Heger
Library Journal
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 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This beautifully told, plainspoken Maine tale is about much more than a boy and his determination to catch a fish. Twelve-year-old Skiff's father passes his days in a haze of beer and television. Their fishing boat has sunk at the dock, taking with her their livelihood. With an old man's help, Skiff fixes the boat's planks, but repairing the motor costs too much. An upper-class bully, who calls him "swamper" ("local talk for white trash") and steals his traps, destroys his next inspiration, a lucrative lobster-hauling plan. So Skiff decides his only option is to go 30 miles out to sea all by himself and harpoon a giant bluefin tuna that will yield more than enough money to fix the boat and might just prompt his father's return to active life. Here, in true Hemingway fashion, the fishing adventure sings with urgency and determination; depth and thoughtfulness arrive via technical fishing details as well as Skiff's poignant mental dialogues with his beloved late mother. Readers will be hooked. (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439856300
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/10/2006
  • Series: After Words Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Rodman Philbrick
Rodman Philbrick published more than fifteen adult mystery and suspense novels before writing Freak the Mighty. He and his wife, novelist Lynn Harnett, divide their time between Maine and the Florida Keys.
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Table of Contents

1. Lobster Boy 9
2. Swampers 14
3. By the Barrel Raised 20
4. Rotten to the Keel 27
5. Attack of the Vampire Mud Worms 35
6. The Finest Kind 42
7. The Ringing of the Hammer 48
8. What the Grease Monkey Said 53
9. Money by the Pound 59
10. Lobster in the Parlor 66
11. Trap Wars 73
12. Rich Boy in the Dark of Night 80
13. When You Wake Up 88
14. By Hook and by Crook 98
15. Where the Big Fish Live 107
16. The Blushing Bandit 113
17. Three Rules for Skiff Beaman 119
18. What Happened to the Stars 125
19. If Mist Made the World 133
20. Take My Breath Away 140
21. When the Whoosh Comes By 149
22. Keg Rider 158
23. A Nantucket Sleigh Ride 166
24. The Angel in the Mist 174
25. The Tail on the Door 189
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 2, 2011


    The Young Man and The Sea This is a story about a boy named Skiff. Skiff has gone through a lot because he resently lost his Mother, and his Father is depressed and won't get off the couch and stop drinking beer.On the last day of school Skiff comes home and see's his Fathers boat The Mary Rose sunk at dock. Skiff's dad is too depressed about his Wife passing away to try to fix the Mary Rose. Skiff deciedes to have Mr.Woodwell take a look at the Mary Rose because Mr.Woodwell helped Skiffs dad "Big Skiff" build the Mary Rose. Mr.Woodwell tells skiff he needs the money to fix the Mary Rose's engine because when the boat went under water the engine got swamped and broke also because of old age and rusted out parts. So now it's up to Skiff to try to fix the boat by himself using his dads old lobster traps and "little Skiff" which is his boat he got for his birthday, to try to raise money to fix the engine. Now Skiff has another problem which is Tyler Croft. Tyler Croft is Jack Croft's son and Jack Croft and skiff's dad used to Harpon Tuna. Skiffs dad was called the best at harponing Tuna. So Tyler Croft keeps cutting all of Skiffs lobster traps and Skiff has to prove it to someone that Tlyer Croft keeps cutting his buoys. Now Skiff realizes he can't get enough money even with the Lobster trap because he still has to buy the bait and gas for the boat and other little things to keep catching lobster traps in his "little Skiff". So Skiff has his mind set on catching a Bluefin Tuna which will cover the cost of the engine to fix the mary Rose and help him and his dad.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2008

    Young Man against the Sea

    This is a book about a boy named Skiff who's mom is dead and father is an acholic. He doesn't get beat or anything but he is more the man of the house than his father. As school jsut ended and it's summer time and Skiff has to salvage a fisherman's boat him and his father call the Mary Rose they both use to fish, but know Skiff has to go down to the dock everyday to repair the Mary Rose that way it won't sink. But every-day as Skiff is fixing up the Mary Rose a rich kid and some other kids bully him about fixing up the Mary Rose, but Skiff know that what they say isn't. Back then Skiff father use to work with a fisherman named Mr.Woodwell helps Skiff repair the Mary Rose since his father is to depressed to . As Mr.Woodwell and Skiff salvage they put up lobster traps to catch some lobsters to rise money, but one day some bullies destory the lobster traps and the Mary Rose sunk and they need money to but a new engine. When they all throught hope was last they saw a sign saying who ever catch the bluefin tuna get 10,000. So Skiff goes out at sea to catch the bluefin tuna.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    Young Man and the Sea

    This is a book about a boy who's mom is dead and father is an acholic. He doesn't get beat or anything but he is more the man of the house than his father. Then one day some bullies cut and destroy all of there lobster traps and they are in trouble. Then he hears about a huge blue gill that could help their problems forever. The reward for catching the fish is 10,000 dollars, this is where the adventure begins. He goes on for days trying to catch this fish. It has a great ending with a ton of excitment and is full of twists and turns. Will he catch the fish or be pulled into the ocean you will just have to find out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2008

    I love all books but not this one.

    This book is okay but in my case it stinks.It is not well written and it goes on and on about how the father is drunk all the time and that can get very boring.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2008

    I dont like

    Sad book and a bad influence for kids under the age of 12 because of the kid's dad.Kids might think they don't have to do anything in life but be a couch potato and not get a job.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2008


    i dont no if its gonna be good or not but its not really my type of book. i prefer vampires love and drama!!!! but unfortunatly i hab to read this book and do an assigment on it for Eighth grade so hopefully i wont fall asleep lol. i hope its good!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2006

    WORST BOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This book is ill-written, and unoriginal. The plot is so predictable, the characters are boring and don't give you any intrest in their struggles. 'The Young Man and the Sea' plays WAY TOO MUCH off of 'The Old Man and the Sea', the original by Ernest Hemingway. The book gives little elboration and a predictable, mimicking and mockful plot. Horrible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2006

    a little sad...

    Not for people who easily cry! But do not fear, it has a good ending. Great book of integrity and character at a young age when no one else has faith in you. Well written. I applaud it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2005

    What Skiff did during Summer Vacation

    At 12, Skiff took care of his father after his mother died. Once a great fisherman, Skiff's father became a drunk. So, Skiff became his father's caregiver. On the last day of school before summer vacation, Skiff goes to the dock to pump out the bilge of their fishing boat, the Mary Rose, but finds her sunk at the dock. This is an exciting, life and death adventure of how Skiff saves the Mary Rose, himself, and his father.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2004

    great novel

    im a little over half done with the book so far outstanding i loved the part when little skiff went on his boat and slammed into that fagit

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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