Blueback details the life of Abel Jackson, a diver and later marine biologist, from when he was 10 years old into his adult life. The title of the book originates from a fish Abel meets while diving in the bay near his house; a giant blue groper. Abel and his mother, Dora, name it Blueback, and they repeatedly visit it as it spends its life on the reef there. Abel lives with Blueback through many hard times, including protecting him from a poacher. Abel grows up to become a marine biologist as a result of his passion for the sea and love of Blueback.
The novel isn't all about the life of Abel Jackson. The novel also outlines a message: "The decisions made in ones childhood can greatly affect his life during adulthood".
Described by the author as a "contemporary fable", Blueback explores universal human themes such as love for family, passion, growing up, and belonging. It has been variously described by reviews as "a clearly articulated call for ecological responsibility" in which "Winton pulls deftly on the heartstrings" and a "mawkish [tale] about world ecology that as message is indisputably bad"
In 1999, Blueback was awarded the Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children's Literature in the Senior Fiction category, and in 1999 was awarded the Hoffman Award by the West Australian Young Readers Book Award association.
In 2009, Blueback was adapted into a puppet show by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, located in Fremantle. It was performed at the West Australian Maritime Museum to positive reviews.
- "Blueback (Winton)". American Library Association Booklist: 986. Feb 15, 1998.
- Publishers Weekly, Reed Business Information (review date unknown), reprinted by Amazon.com
- "Environment Award for Children's Literature - Previous years". Wilderness Society.
- "Hoffman Award past winners". WAYRBA.
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