DEMO AND THE DOLPHIN by Nathaniel Benchley


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One of the stiffer, more artificial tales of an ancient Greek lad and an accommodating dolphin--and no place for Benchley, with his knack for a wide-awake American vernacular, to be. Young Demo is flipping stones when the dolphin, Simo, appears and flips a stone back. They exchange information--starting with the meaning of the name of each (Simo comes from the Latin--first?--Delphinus delphis; but ""You Greeks spell it delphys""); and that will be the pattern of their conversations--Simo will impart dolphin lore; Demo, the teachings of Plato and great episodes in Greek history. Demo also confides that his fisherman-father isn't catching much; and Simo replies, ""Perhaps I could help. Dolphins and fishermen very often work together."" But Demo's father needs more than the usual help--some fish herded his way: he's afraid to go into deep water ""because his father was drowned in a storm."" And at the end of a swim around the ancient Mediterranean (where Odysseus, among others, turns up), Demo presents the problem to a priestess/oracle at Delphi: ""A wise man heeds the warning of the sea,"" she responds; ""a fool is one who hears but does not heed it."" Puzzling, Demo returns home--to find that his father, to prove himself to Demo. has indeed gone to sea. . . and not returned. But, Demo consoles his mother, ""I saw a man out there, and he's been trying to get home for ten years."" Some of the boy/dolphin repartee is meant to be spoofy too; but it's misdirected at this age level--and the whole is more exercise than story.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1981
Publisher: Harper & Row