A girl’s place is on shore in Nina’s fishing village in the Philippines, but today will be different.
Brown-skinned Nina convinces old Lolo to let her join him for a day of serious fishing, although she has been told “a boat is not the place for a girl.” She must promise to bait her own hook and take responsibility for handling any fish she might catch. The other fishermen scoff and jeer, but Lolo remains firm in his decision. As the day progresses Nina has not caught a single fish, while Lolo’s buckets are filling up. Finally, she gets a bite, a large fish that fights her violently. Lolo insists that Nina must bring it in herself “hand over hand,” assuring and encouraging her. They arrive home with the fish to the amazement and chagrin of the other fishermen. Fullerton presents a vignette of traditional Filipino culture with a modern twist. Sounds of the sea and the boat’s movements, repetition of the title phrase, sharp descriptive phrases, and simple dialogue, all in a gentle, unhurried third-person narrative, lovingly evoke the setting and the tender intergenerational relationship. Benoit’s watercolor illustrations beautifully capture the look of the islands with color and softly defined details. Love between Nina and old Lolo shines in their body language and expressions.
A sweet tale that is both culturally specific and universal. (Picture book. 5-8)