Title: Manuel and the Lobsterman
Author: Cat Urbain
Publisher: Front Street
Concepts: Child schooling and work, natural resources
Review: Thirteen-year-old Manuel Menendez has just moved to a small Maine town with his mother and new stepfather and has only one objective in mind: returning to his former home in New Haven, Connecticut. Manuel knows his must find a job to be able to pay the fare for the trip back to New Haven, so he looks for work at local establishments but comes up empty-handed. Desperate to find his way home, Manuel ends up working for an aging lobsterman, Zeke Churchill. Already a seasoned worker from his experience fixing motorcycles at a local repair back in New Haven, Manuel thinks hauling lobster traps will be a piece of a cake. He soon discovers, however, that Zeke has a lot to teach Manuel – and not just about lobstering.
As the book mostly covers Manuel’s experience on the lobster boat, young readers will quickly see the importance of hard work in reaching a goal requiring money. They will also see how Manuel’s previous work experience taught him skills that could be carried over to his new work, but that a new job also requires Manuel to step back and learn from someone more experienced.
The characters are interesting, even if somewhat two-dimensional, and the relationships that evolve between various characters as the plot thickens will hold the young reader’s attention. The story moves quickly, and children will want to keep turning the page to see what will happen next.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children