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What's the story?
A gripping survival tale begins when David's favorite uncle dies after asking David to scatter his ashes at sea. David sails his uncle's small boat without checking weather reports, and a sudden storm creates disaster. Low on food, becalmed, attacked by a shark, and escorted by killer whales, David hangs on against the odds. A harrowing, uplifting adventure short enough for reluctant readers.
Is it any good?
Most young readers enjoy fast-moving adventure stories, and reluctant readers need such fare to help them experience the excitement that can be found in books; Paulsen satisfies these needs. And he does it with first-rate writing and interesting information as well.
The author respects his teenage character enough to portray the boy's fear, but also enough to show him conquering his fear with intelligence and courage. Coping with an apparent attack by a shark, a near collision with a huge oil tanker, and an escort of killer whales, David learns to use his limited knowledge of the sea to survive. In doing so, he begins to understand his uncle's desire to spend his life studying, to learn everything he possibly can learn in his lifetime, offering an excellent example to young readers without lecturing them. By the time David has won his battle to save his little boat and survive, he has reached a new maturity that allows him to turn down the offer of rescue.
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