As a child, I was nuts for dolphins. I originally went to college for a degree in Psychology so I’d be able to become an animal behaviorist, and study dolphins. I even memorized the scientific names of various whales and dolphins.
Today I’ve got a review of a great new children’s nature book about a little dolphin with an incredible spirit, and the generous people who helped her recover from a terrible injury.
From the authors of Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship, and Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World comes Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again.
Winter the bottle-nose dolphin was entangled in a crab trap off the east coast of Florida, and was thankfully rescued by a concerned fisherman.
Her tail had become severely injured by the net, and needed medical attention soon. Volunteers at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium were able to get the baby dolphin to eat, and gradually she grew healthier, but her tail eventually fell off.
The clever dolphin learned how to swim her tail’s stump by moving her body side-to-side, similar to that of a fish. The staff at the aquarium was impressed by her ingenuity and determination. They eventually introduced her to another rescued dolphin. Soon, Winter began attracting media attention, including The Today Show and local radio programs. An animal lover, Kevin Carroll, heard about Winter on the radio and wanted to help. He created prostheses for humans, and thought he might be able to do the same for Winter. He and others developed a special prosthesis for Winter, one that would work in the water, and function like a real tail. Kevin Caroll’s design and formation of a special gel to ease any of Winter’s discomfort helps others, such as Iraq war veterans who have lost limbs. Winter’s courage and unwavering spirit helps inspire others who face challenges.
Winter’s Tail is a great story for kids and adults. It’s an extraordinary tale of survival, and Winter will definitely touch your heart. The story flows well, and the enclosed photographs chronicle Winter’s journey from her discovery to her life today. It’s a really informative title with a lot of information conveyed in a pleasing format, with such a good amount of text and pictures, the reader is immediately drawn into Winter’s story. I especially enjoyed the pictures of Winter’s birthday party, Winter with her trainers, and the crowds that she draws.
The back pages include information about her new home, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, dolphins, how dolphins are “trained,” and Kevin Carroll.
Would you like to get your own copy of Winter’s Tail? Scholastic has an opportunity for you to win a Winter’s Tail prize pack.
The winner will receive the following:
* Dolphin Plush
* Dolphin Key Chain
* Winter’s Tail video game for Nintendo DS
* Copy of Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again Book
Retail value: $81.99
One commenter will win.
Per the sponsor’s rules, The Winter’s Tail
contest is open to U.S. addresses only. International readers may enter, provided they can have a friend in the US receive the package for them.
Sweepstakes begins September 28, 2009 and will run for 3 weeks, closing October 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM (Central). Winner will be chosen using random.org
Leave your email address in the comments. Additional entries:
+ 1 for Tweeting this contest/review (please include your @twitter name)
My thanks to Scholastic and Big Honcho Media for inviting me to participate in this promotion.
There’s a wealth of material on Winter for teachers and parents who’d like to use the book in a curriculum.
View the book trailer:
There will be a live webcast about Winter on October 7, 1:00-1:45 ET at Scholastic
Copy for review provided by the publisher.
Title: Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned How to Swim Again
Author: Julianna Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff
Date: October 1, 2009
The stick has always been more than “just” a stick. It appreciates music, and art, and admires beauty. It does math equations. But it lacks the voice to share its love and feelings with the rest of the forest, and therefore they see him as just a stick. Until one day, it figures out it had a way to speak all along.
From author and artist John Lechner
comes a charming tale of finding one’s true voice. I love this book. The illustrations are so soft, dreamy, and calming. The text on each page is minimal, and draws you in, it’s perfect to be read aloud. The stick transitions from inanimate object to hero by page one and you’ll be rooting for him all the way, especially after he experiences a minor setback.
I wanted to use this in my storytime, but I’ve not had a chance yet. I know the children will love it, as will probably my stepmother’s class. I can see it being used to begin a creative writing curriculum or even a discussion about self esteem. Kids could take away the message that everybody, no matter how small, has a voice and it is indelible, no matter who tries to silence it.
Watch the trailer below and visit JohnLechner.com
, to see more of the author’s work, including his other books, Froggy Fable
, Sticky Burr
, and several charming short films
Copy for review provided by the publisher.
Author: John Lechner
Date: August 2009
Publisher: Candlewick Press
On this day, 8 years ago, the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon occured. In New York on September 11, 2001 was a Maasai tribe member, Kemeli Naiyomah, a student. On a visit home to Kenya, he tells his tribe of the terrible things he saw.
The tribe is moved by his account of 9/11, and they are spurred to do something. Kimeli possesses one cow, Enkarus. The elders want to do something more. Cows are sacred to the tribe. As the book puts it, “To the Maasai, the cow is life.” Thirteen more cows are offered to America, and a ceremony is held.
This is 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy, in collaboration with Wilson Kemeli Naiyomah.
This is a must-read book for anyone. Not just for this day, but for any day. The sparse text and gorgeous dark and richly-colored illustrations of Thomas Gonzalez amplify the message. It’s more than a tale of September 11, far more. It’s a stunning portrait of humanity, and how we are all connected. It’s a story that must be told. Schoolchildren in America will be told for years of September 11, and how many lives were lost, but I think they also need to know that one day, thousands of miles away in Kenya, the continuation of life was celebrated with a most precious gift.
There are so many parts I love to this book. I especially like how the picture book doesn’t depict the fallen towers, but focuses on imagery of the Maasai. The writing struck me most of all. The brevity of it, so much accomplished in few words must be highlighted:
“There is a terrible stillness in the air as the tale unfolds.
With growing disbelief, men, women, and children listen.
Buildings so tall they can touch the sky
Fires so hot they can melt iron?
Smoke and dust so thick they can block out the sun?”
- 14 Cows for America
The end of the book features a note from Kimeli, and also shows the flag commemorating the 14 Cows that will hang in the September 11 Memorial and Museum.
Title: 14 Cows for America
Author: Carmen Agra Deedy with Wilson Kemeli Naiyomah (Illus. by Thomas Gonzalez)
Date: August 2009
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
This is a cautionary tale about a voracious book that may eat an unfortunate equally voracious and naive reader. The Book That Eats People by John Perry chronicles the horrific history of a book that, as the title says, eats people. This is that book. The book warns you not to read, as it’s a particularly nasty-tempted book. If you do, you’ll learn the fate of poor Sammy Ruskin, who was devoured by the pages, and the book’s other two (so far) victims.
Who wouldn’t want to read this book with that cover? Despite the multiple warnings, read this book. Kids will love the silly tale of a vicious book that eats people, including a library night guard, and the subsequent attempts to reform it of its cannibal ways. Adults will appreciate the cleverness, like when the book devours Sammy Ruskin, it’s then entitled “Whatever Happened to Sammy Ruskin?” It’ll have you both laughing aloud as you read the book how tries to hide its true identity as people-eating book, with a nice safe cover. You can guess how that turns out. Gulp.
Title: The Book That Eats People
Author: John Perry (illus. by Mark Fearing)
Date: August 2009
Publisher: Tricycle Press
When I saw a new Lane Smith book had arrived in my store, I jumped for joy. Not literally, because that would scare the customers. Smith’s new book, Big Elephant in the Room is good, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the classic The True Story of the Three Little Pigs or The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Tales.
The Big Elephant in the Room is the story of two donkey friends. As you can see by the cover, one is portrayed as a geeky donkey, complete with bow tie and glasses. The other is the “cool” friend. The nerdish donkey says to the other, “Can we talk about the big elephant in the room?” The cool donkey then gives a list of reasons that his friend might be mad at him, and deeming the elephant in the room. These start out simple enough, such as eating all the ice cream. But the reasons soon escalate into pure meanness – making fun of a backup, breaking a computer, and the list goes on.
I can appreciate the differentiation Lane Smith attempts with the two “vastly different friends,” adhering to that old standby, “opposites attract,” but in doing so, the other friend comes off as just a bully. The list of reasons could’ve been less harmful, for example, maybe the cool donkey beat his friend at a video game, or something. Less malicious things such as not defending your friend after he’s picked on. Maybe a parent could use this as a two lessons in one: How to be a friend, and what is an idiom. But sadly, I found nothing really special that warranted a second read. Not even the end made me crack a smile.
That said, I love the layout style of the book, and the illustrations are still worth a look, but the story deeply disappoints.
Title: The Big Elephant in the Room
Date: July 2009
Publisher: Hyperion Books
The Best Book I’ve Never Read
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