Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again told by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff. Scholastic, 2009 (publisher supplied review copy)
The Hatkoffs' Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship was a popular choice for school libraries with its theme of survival and friendship between two unlikely companions, a baby hippo and a giant tortoise.
Like Owen the hippo, Winter the baby dolphin, was also in distress when she was found, entangled in the ropes of a crab trap. Although she was rescued and well cared for, Winter eventually lost her tail because of her injuries. Kevin Carroll and the experts from Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics worked to design a prosthesis for Winter so she could swim properly and avoid damage to her backbone. The need for the prosthesis was medical, for Winter's health--not for appearance. I appreciated that this point was emphasized
Winter has generated a great deal of interest among children and veterans who have prostheses or other medical devices. Whether the need for these devices is the result of accident, illness or a grievous war injury, coping with the aftermath can be challenging and emotionally difficult.
There is reassurance in a story of adults who will go to extraordinary lengths to care for these animals. A child can see themselves in both roles, the child needing help and the kind and caring expert who provides it.
I was interested in reviewing this title because of my library "dolphin girls." Every year there are one or two girls who want ot read and reread every nonfiction book in the school library on dolphins. This book is an excellent choice for them. It includes facts and information about these mammals, their physiology, their care, socialization and training.
The story is well reported and there is no anthropomorphizing of the dolphin. In fact, Hatkoff emphasizes that humans cannot know what Winter is thinking. Winter's story is well documented with full color photos including some very interesting photographs of the prosthetic tail.
Additional background on the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Kevin Carroll and Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics is included. Interestingly, Hanger was founded in 1861, during the American Civil War.
The Hatkoffs have found a nice publishing niche here with true stories of animal rescue. The focus on the use of prostheses in this one could be timely for children whose relatives are injured veterans. Doing whatever is necessary to help these heros is the very least we can do.
This week’s Non-Fiction Monday Round-Up is at Abby (the) Librarian.