The Line Tender by Kate Allen

Lucy and Fred are very best friends and collaborating on a summer project. Already a passionate biologist at 13, Fred asks Lucy (a talented artist in the throes of self-discovery) to illustrate a field guide of animals that live close to their seaside home. So, when a shark is snared in a fishing net, Fred’s excitement is palpable!

I was so immersed in their story I was shocked to my core when tragedy struck. But life goes on in this bittersweet yet life affirming story. This is a rich, nuanced tale of insightful observations, gentle humour and relatable personalities; even minor characters leave an indelible mark on the story.

In her grief, Lucy finds reassurance and support from her family and community. She also discovers the importance of connection and the wonderful interplay of art and science. Each chapter begins with her drawings of the captured shark and as the story unfolds Lucy’s illustrations reveal her inner struggle: her sketches at first seem flat and empty but come to life as the field guide becomes both an homage and lifeline to those she’s loved and lost.

Highly recommended for readers in upper primary and lower secondary school who enjoy a realistic and engaging story.


Athina Clarke is the children’s book buyer at Readings Malvern.

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The Line Tender

The Line Tender

Kate Ellen

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