A boy with cerebral palsy and an injured albino dolphin calf help Kara Wood come to terms with her mother’s death and the sale of the family’s boat, Moana.
Kara’s mother vanished a year ago on a dolphin-saving trip to the South Pacific. With debts mounting, her father plans to sell the sailboat they built and that he has used to tend their lobster pots. The temporary protection of the reef near their British coastal home is about to expire, and local fishing-fleet owner Dougie Evans is looking forward to dredging for scallops again—destroying an environment that Kara loves. Setting up this situation and bringing dyslexic Kara together with Felix Andersen, a computer-savvy boy who doesn’t let a useless arm and slight limp get in his way, takes nearly half the narrative. Readers who persevere will be rewarded with a satisfying stranded-dolphin rehabilitation and an edge-of-your-seat sailboat rescue. Lewis complicates her plot with distracting details, including the family vendetta that makes Evans’ ultimate change of heart less than convincing. But she evokes the natural world beautifully, with compelling descriptions of the surprising undersea and shoreline wonders that support the strong environmental message.
Readers captivated by Wild Wings (2011) may find this less engaging but will certainly be hoping for more books from Lewis in the future. (Fiction. 9-13)