Orcas Everywhere: The Mystery and History of Killer Whales

Orca. (Orca Wild). Sept. 2019. 160p. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781459819986.
Gr 4-7–Leiren-Young, an activist and filmmaker in British Columbia, outlines the history of human interaction with killer whales, dating back to ancient Rome. He also explains recent changes in human understanding of the mammals and the treatment of whales in captivity. Coverage of orca behavior in families and groups is especially illuminating. The plentiful photos and illustrations spotlight orcas in the wild. The final chapter contains a list of what can be done to ensure species conservation, such as reducing plastic usage and becoming politically active. Testimonies from four young activists provide a human connection. While it keeps a conversational, occasionally snarky tone that middle graders might appreciate, the narrative is too often laced with vague statements such as “most people now admit,” “some people believe,” and “almost everyone thought.” The two-page list of resources includes books, websites, videos, and audio programs. While photos are credited, there are no source notes. Clear citations of scientific research are lacking.
VERDICT While the subject is important and the text is engaging and appealing, with illustrations and helpful sidebars throughout, the lack of rigorous documentation makes this title an additional purchase.

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