FICTION

One White Dolphin

illus. by Raquel Aparicio. 336p. S & S/Atheneum. 2012. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-1447-1; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-1450-1.
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Gr 4–8—A year after her mother disappeared while working for an organization trying to stop the capture of dolphins for theme parks, Kara Woods still refuses to acknowledge that she won't return. Her frustration and anger intensify when she learns that in order to pay his debts, her father needs to sell the sailboat her parents rebuilt. Kara lashes out against Jake Evans, whose father employs most of the men in town to fish on his boats and who intends to dredge the coral reefs her mother tried to protect. She finds an unexpected ally in Felix, whose family moved to Cornwall from London. Despite having cerebral palsy, he quickly develops into an accomplished sailor in a specially equipped boat. After a white baby dolphin washes ashore badly hurt from getting tangled in fishing net, Kara and Felix help in its rescue. The resulting media attention brings crowds who might help stop the dredging. But can local residents afford to support conservation efforts when they could lose their jobs by opposing Evans? When the youngsters save Jake's life in a dramatic sea rescue, he realizes that short-term financial gains cannot compensate for environmental destruction that compromises the community's long-term future. Lewis smoothly incorporates information about threats to dolphins and other ocean life without slowing the pace. Tension between economic realities and environmental goals raises interesting issues to discuss. Kara's and Felix's flaws and strengths make them credible protagonists who demonstrate courage and skill in bringing the conflict to a satisfying resolution.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Kara finds an injured baby dolphin and nurses it back to health, believing that if the dolphin--and the over-dredged reef on which her fishing village relies--recovers, her missing marine biologist mother will return home. Kara's friend Felix helps her face reality, but she takes comfort in championing her mum's cause. Fully developed characters make for personal conflicts as compelling as the environmental one.

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