Hero Of The SeaSir Peter Blake’s Mighty Ocean Quests.
By David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris

Hero of the Sea is a stunning biographical picture book for young readers about Sir Peter Blake, world-renowned New Zealand yachtsman, adventurer and environmentalist.

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 world records.  Even his trademark red socks became a national sensation! But no matter how many trophies Peter won, he always knew the survival of our planet was far more important.

This illustrated picture book by acclaimed author David Hill and illustrator Phoebe Morris, tells the remarkable story of a true Kiwi hero.

Being that I’m still in possession of my original pair of the iconic red socks, this book immediately grabbed my attention.  It soon became obvious however, that this was far more than just the story of the red socks!  The book begins by describing Peter as a normal Kiwi kid and shows the readers that with a bit of hard work and ingenuity, anyone can grow up to do incredible things.

The book goes on to tell of Blake’s environmentalism work and continuation his continuation in racing around the world.  We then learn all about about Blake’s adventures aboard the Seamaster, and ultimately, his untimely demise at the hands of pirates in the Amazon.

Hero of the Sea leaves readers (young and old) with a strong sense of Sir Peter Blake’s lasting legacy as an environmentalist, but more importantly as a normal Kiwi who went on to become a cultural icon, not just in New Zealand, but across the globe.

Phoebe Morris’ illustration is outstanding, as always, and her attention to detail really complements and enhances the themes in the story.

The core theme that we took away from this book is:
“How we as individuals can make a difference”

Here are some of the ideas that our crew came up with:
“Pick up litter”
“Plant some trees”
“Put up signs to discourage people from littering”
“Use less plastic”
“Recycle more”

Sir Peter Blake learnt to navigate via the stars while at sea.  Go star spotting and even learn how to find South using the stars like, just like Peter (except with the help of Wiki How!)

You can also have a go at cracking the secret Hero of the Sea code with this activity sheet.

Let us know what ideas and actions your children come up with!

About the author, David Hill

David HillDavid is a prolific and highly regarded New Zealand writer, playwright, poet, columnist and critic. Best known for his highly popular and award-winning body of work for young people, ranging from picture books to teenage fiction, his novels have been published all around the world and translated into several languages, and his short stories and plays for young people have been broadcast here and overseas.

Born in Napier, New Zealand, David studied at Victoria University of Wellington and became a high-school teacher, teaching both in New Zealand and the UK. In 1982 he became a full-time writer and his first novel for teenagers, See Ya, Simon (1992), about a boy with muscular dystrophy, was shortlisted for major awards in New Zealand and the UK and won the 1994 Times Educational Supplement Award for Special Needs. An enduringly popular novel used as a class text in high schools all over New Zealand, in 2002 it was awarded the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book.

David has published more than 40 titles over the past three decades. His recent middle-grade novels include My Brother’s War (2012), which in 2013 won the Junior Fiction Award and the Children’s Choice Junior Fiction Award in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, the LIANZA Librarian’s Choice Award and was listed as a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book, a White Raven and an IBBY Honour book. This was followed by novels Brave Company (2014) – also a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book; The Deadly Sky (2015); Enemy Camp (2016), which won the 2016 HELL Children’s Choice Award for Junior Fiction; Flight Path (2017), a Storylines Notable Book; and Finding (May 2018).

David is also the author of a number of critically acclaimed picture books with illustrator Phoebe Morris. First to the Top (2015) is their bestselling story of the life of Sir Edmund Hillary, which won the 2016 Children’s Choice Award for non-fiction and was a 2016 Storylines Notable Picture Book. Speed King (2016), about the world-record-breaking achievements of Burt Munro, and Sky High (2017), recounting the life of the daring aviator Jean Batten, were both presented with Storylines Notable Picture Book awards.

In 2004 David was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2005 he was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, acknowledging his significant contribution to children’s literature in New Zealand.
He lives in New Plymouth with his wife Beth, and juggles his many writing projects with numerous school visits, leading professional development for teachers, mentoring new and emerging writers and tutoring creative writing.

About the illustartor, Phoebe Morris

Phoebe MorrisPhoebe Morris has been drawing for herself since 1996, and for other people since 2013. From a small studio in Wellington, she has collaborated with acclaimed author David Hill on award-winning picture book biographies of famous New Zealanders for Penguin Random House New Zealand: Sir Edmund Hillary (First to the Top, 2015), Burt Munro (Speed King, 2016) and Jean Batten (Sky High, 2017). Phoebe is also the illustrator of the Frankie Potts junior fiction series by Juliet Jacka.

Unanimously praised for the quality of the illustrations, First to the Top was named a 2016 Storylines Notable Picture Book. In a review for the New Zealand Listener, Ann Packer wrote ‘Wellingtonian Phoebe Morris makes a stunning debut as an illustrator … from the arresting cover, through cameos of his younger life, to haunting, other-worldly mountainscapes, Morris’s style gives the old story a cool new edge.’

Though much of her work focuses on narrative storytelling, Phoebe also creates illustrations for apps, websites, editorials, animation and interior design. Find out more about her work at phoebemorriscreative.com

Learn more about David and Phoebe in their Q and A over at Penguin Books.

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