Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival by Janet Wyman Coleman

Eight years after the events of August 2005, stories from Hurricane Katrina keep coming. Bonnie recently brought home a Katrina book bound to interest animal lovers of all ages, Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival written by Janet Wyman Coleman and illustrated by Yan Nascimbene. Kind as she always is, Bonnie shared the book with me.

Many Katrina stories focus on New Orleans. Not so with Eight Dolphins of Katrina. This story starts at the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, Mississippi, where keepers planned a move of some of their dolphins to hotel swimming pools four miles inland. There were not, however, enough pools to host all of the oceanarium's collection. Eight dolphins stayed at the coastal facility, which had withstood previous hurricanes.

On the morning of August 29, however, a forty-foot tidal wave crushed the dolphin house, collapsing its roof. As staff approached the building the next day, they dreaded looking into the dolphin pool but upon doing so were amazed to find it empty. They then looked out into the gulf and wondered whether the dolphins could have survived, and if so, where they could be found. Hurriedly they began a search.

The book subtitle gives away that Eight Dolphins of Katrina is a story with a happy ending. In telling it, the author includes several older stories about positive bonds between dolphins and humans. Nascimbene's blue-toned full page illustrations add drama to the story, and photographs showing the oceanarium, its dolphins, and its staff may be found with an account of the facts in the back of the book. Young and old will enjoy this beautiful book.

Coleman, Janet Wyman. Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2013. (40 pages) ISBN 9780547719238.

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