Learning the magic of the ocean, Sasha Maclean
14 January, 2021
Spearo by Mary-anne Scott is an exciting spearfishing adventure about a boy who enters the wonderful world of spearfishing.
Imagine moving to New Zealand from Zimbabwe, after the death of your father. Imagine leaving behind everything you know to go to a strange country very far away where you know nobody.
This is what happens to Sean Phelps. He is lonely and homesick, until he meets Mason, a ‘mad keen spearo’ who introduces him to the wonderful world of spearfishing. As he learns about the magic of the ocean and spearfishing, Sean must get over his fear of sharks, assure his paranoid mother that he is in no real danger, and find money to buy dive gear.
This book taught me quite a bit about the ocean and spearfishing. Especially since before reading this book, I thought the term spearfishing implied fishing actual spearfish. But now, having read this book, I know a fair bit more about fishing.
Spearo is quite a cool book, in the sense that we learn alongside the main character. As Sean learns about fish and boats and diving, we learn about it all right as we read. Books like this are good to educate as well and to entertain and is written skillfully so that the transfer of information seems natural, just like picking things up from the environment around us.
The description of Sean’s first dive is one of the most gripping parts of the book.
The sea floor came into view; the same jagged, barnacle-crusted rocks and occasional slick surfaces that were exposed on the shore, but now, everything was darker and slower.
This first dive chapter is also amazing because Sean hadn’t been in the sea since he was four years old and had only seen the sea once before in his life. This is quite a bizarre idea for me to get my head around, because in New Zealand we are never very far from the sea. In fact, the furthest New Zealand town from the sea is Cromwell, which is only one hundred and twenty kilometers from the sea.
Weeds swayed in the current, which carried floating debris and tiny fish. A crab scuttled from a crevice to a spongy lump right beneath his face. He stared and stared. He forgot about everything as he took it all in.
I also like this book because of the snorkeling aspect of spearfishing. I’ve done a bit of snorkeling and I agree with how breathtaking everything looks from beneath the surface of the ocean. The descriptions of the underwater world in this book are spot on.
I would recommend this book for anyone aged about 9, 10 to 15, or even adults – basically just anyone who is interested in the ocean, fishing snorkeling, spearfishing or even someone who just wants to learn more about New Zealand’s great big blue backyard. Also, if you have read things such as Our Big Blue Backyard by Janet Hunt, have seen David Attenborough’s Blue Planet you would probably enjoy this read.
- Sasha Maclean is 12 years old and a student at Sacred Heart Girl’s College, New Plymouth.