Heroes of the Surf

Written By: Elisa Carbone

Illustrated By: Nancy Carpenter

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations and Text:

Enjoy looking through the front cover and illustrations with your child before you begin reading, and ask your child questions that to encourage making predictions about the story.

What do you notice on the front cover?

Who do you think the “Heroes of the Surf” are?

Where do you think the ship is coming from? Where do you think it’s going?

[Flip to any page] What do you think is happening in this picture?

[Flip to any page] What do you think the little boys are playing in this picture?

Historical Fiction:

Let your child know that the story you are about to read is based on a real event that happened off the coast of New Jersey in 1882.  Want to incorporate a little math?  Figure out how many years ago that was!  There is more information about the actual events of that day and the heroic actions of the surfmen in the Afterword in the back of the book.

As You Read

Vocabulary Building:

There are several nautical terms in this story, so encourage your child to stop when s/he gets to a new word, or to write it down for later. Together, you can look up what the different terms mean. Some examples of new terms in Heroes of the Surf include:




Make Connections:

Ask your child questions that will allow them to relate to the characters and events in the story. For example, when the heroes of the surf came to rescue the Anthony, Pedro and the other passengers of the Pliny, ask your child, “Can you think of a time when someone came to your rescue or helped you when you were scared? What happened? How did you feel?”

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret:

Ask your child questions that both check for basic comprehension and for deeper understanding of the book:

What was your favorite part of the story? Least favorite? Why?

Who were the Heroes of the Surf and what did they do?

Who did Anthony and Pedro think the surfmen were at first?

How did they get people off of the boat?

At the beginning of the story, what did Pedro and Anthony like to play? What about at the end of the story? Why do you think this changed?

Why do you think they liked to pretend to be like the surfmen?

Would you like to have been a surfman (or woman!)? Why or why not?

This story is excellent for inspiring kids because it tells the story of real heroes that didn’t need superpowers to help people in need. Make comparisons between the heroes of the surf and well known superheroes your child knows by asking: “How are these Heroes of the Surf just like <insert superhero like Superwoman, Batman, etc.>?  How are they different? What were their human superpowers?  Who do you know that could have been a hero of the surf? Why?”

Activity: Heroes of the Sea...at Home!


Supplies: Milk or juice carton, construction paper, scissors, markers, hole punch, straw

  1. Cut off one side of a milk or juice carton to create the base of the boat (see photo above).
  2. Cut out one or two sails from your construction paper. You can decorate your sails in any way you want!
  3. Next, put a hole in the middle at the top and bottom of each sail and slip the straw through the holes.
  4. Tape the bottom of your straw to the carton and your boat is ready for the water!  

For younger kids, this is a very fun thing to make bath time more enticing!  For older kids, consider making several boats, experimenting with the width of the sails and size of the container, among other things, to see which move the fastest in the water...let the bath be the home to your own personal regatta!

[Source: NiniMakes]