BACK TO THE BLUE

This Born Free Wildlife Book about the removal of one of the last captive dolphins in the UK to the wild—shown from from both the dolphin's and his rescuers' points of view—suffers from mediocre writing and a too-visible agenda. After more than 18 years in a ``barren concrete pool,'' Rocky the dolphin ``could only dimly remember'' freedom. A woman arrives who has ``eyes that were sad and filled with tears,'' and who, with a crew, transports him to a West Indian lagoon where he's later joined by companions Missy and Silver, and eventually released into the open sea. McKenna then tells the tale from the other side, describing how an activist mounted a local campaign on Rocky's behalf and, with the help of an animal-rights coalition, saw him freed. The first section is illustrated with hazy turquoise paintings; the second with an unsystematic selection of full-color snapshots that mostly convey how many people were involved in the rescue effort. A stinginess of detail plagues the account: Missy and Silver are barely mentioned, there are only hints of intriguing complications in Rocky's rescue, and, after a mention of the closure of two of the UK's last three dolphin shows, there is total silence about the fate of the remaining one. Random dolphin facts fill the final pages of this superficial commemoration of a triumph of the animal-rights movement. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-7613-0409-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1998

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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