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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Hero of the Sea: Sir Peter Blake’s Mighty Ocean Quests by David Hill & Phoebe Morris

Sir Peter Blake’s life was filled with amazing adventures. During his 30-year career on the ocean, he sailed around the globe, won the world’s most famous races and broke records. Even his socks became a national icon. But no matter how many trophies he won, he always knew the survival of our planet was more important.

This is a stunning biographical picture book for young readers about Sir Peter, the world-renowned yachtsman, adventurer and environmentalist.

Sir Peter’s life, from birth to death, is covered in the book with lots of facts thrown in along the way – including the fact that he was in the bath when he found out he was being knighted for services to yachting.

A five times competitor in the Whitbread round the world races, now known as the Volvo Ocean Race, Blake went on to lead New Zealand to two successive America’s Cup victories.

His time on the water is well documented within the book, as is his deep passion for the environment. It charts his adventures in South America, Antarctica and the Amazon, where Blake made documentaries about challenges the environment is facing.

Phoebe Morris’s illustrations are beautiful. She perfectly captures Blake’s likeness – complete with trademark mo. Her final page, where Blake met his untimely death at the hands of Brazilian pirates, is a simple yet heart breaking and poignant tribute.

Morris and Hill have also included a compact timeline at the end of the book, plotting Blake’s life. A simple update on Blake’s family, and the Sir Peter Blake Trust, is included in the end pages.

Coming from a passionate yachting family, Sir Peter took on something of a religious figure within my family. I had great trepidation about this book – would it be able to do justice to the memory of the great man? I need not have worried, Hill and Morris have done a stellar job.

This is the fourth in the ‘Hero’ series by Hill and Morris. Sir Edmund Hillary, Burt Munro and Jean Batten have all had the Hero treatment. Penguin recently released sneak peeks of the next great New Zealand to get the picture book treatment, palaeontologist Jean Wiffen.

These biographical picture books are a wonderful resource that allows a new generation of Kiwi kids to learn about one of our most celebrated heroes.

Sir Peter Blake’s story will inspire our budding sailors, but his deep commitment and passion for the environment really shines through.

“Remember,” he wrote, “this is the most beautiful world, and it’s the only one we’ve got.”

Hero Of The Sea is a stellar tribute to one of New Zealand’s greatest heroes.

Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Picture Puffin, RRP $25


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