Based on the history of a real Acadian fishing family who settled on Prince Edward Island in 1799, this picture book, set in the 1970s, tells the true story of Rocky, one of 13 children, who loved to fish.
Young Rocky feels confined and bored at school, but Dad won’t let the boy come on the boat with him until his feet can fill the family boots. The day finally comes for him to join his father and big sister on the lobster boat. Rocky has the “salt bad in [his] veins,” as his father says, and when he’s finally on the boat sailing out of the harbor, he “feels as free as a seagull.” He learns all the tricks of the trade from Dad and sister Patsy, and he even gets to steer the boat. At the end of the day Rocky falls asleep and dreams of “a world where there are no walls, and he feels free.” Seasoned author Carter’s imaginative text captures the simplicity and wonder of maritime life as seen through the eyes of a child, not unlike Robert McCloskey in his classic Time of Wonder. Dumas’ soft watercolors paint an authentic picture of hard island life, where families are at the mercy of the sea and the fishing trade. The cast is all evidently white, but the centering of French-Canadian characters adds pleasing ethnic diversity.
A charming introduction to a life that will be unfamiliar to most readers. (author’s note, glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)