Remembering where you were when you heard the tragic news that Sir Peter Blake had been killed is one of those iconic Kiwi moments. It came as a truly awful shock to those of us who had grown up idolising this epic New Zealander and following his fabulous achievements on the water. It doesn’t feel like an exaggeration to call him a hero and one very worthy of a children’s book.
Hero of the Sea by David Hill and Phoebe Morris is a welcome addition to their wonderful series about extraordinary New Zealanders. Starting from his early days learning to sail in Auckland, the book follows his adventures in yachting, his love of his family, and his efforts to bring attention to important environmental issues before his life was cruelly cut short in 2001. ‘Remember,’ he wrote, ‘this is the most beautiful world, and it’s the only one we’ve got.’
Hill and Morris are a great team. The story and the illustrations are perfectly balanced. With gorgeously simple lines, Morris accurately captures that well-known rugged, friendly face – moustache and all. The picture of Sir Peter taking a phone call in the bath is utterly adorable. The book has some truly beautiful double page spreads with ocean scenes, true testament to Sir Peter’s love of the environment.
Younger readers will love the brightly coloured illustrations; I predict that Kashin in her red socks will be a favourite . And, although a picture book, there is more than enough information in this biography to appeal to older readers as a great introduction to Sir Peter’s life. The inclusion of a detailed timeline is very useful for young researchers.
This book will be an ideal Christmas gift for aspiring yachties and conservation-minded kids. It is also a lovely reminder for us adults of what a special human being Sir Peter was and how lucky we were to have him. His legacy lives on through the Sir Peter Blake Trust’ helping a new generation of kiwi kids to explore and value our marine environment.
Review by Tiffany Matsis
Hero of the Sea: Sir Peter Blake’s Mighty Ocean Quests
by David Hill and Phoebe Morris
Published by Puffin