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Friday, June 1, 2012

Dolphin Baby, written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Brita Granstrom. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2011. $18.00 ages 4 and up

"Mom and Dolphin rest together.
Dolphin rubs his tummy on Mom's
round head. Mom strokes him with
her flipper. She whistles to him a
whistle that is just hers -
her name in dolphin sound:"

Here's another one of those authors who knows her audience and her subject, sharing her deep knowledge of natural beings in a format that is always accessible, even for our youngest readers. I call it 'faction' because it is such a charming blend of imagined story and impeccable research.

Who doesn't want to read stories about parent and child? So, I opened Dolphin Baby knowing that I was going to like what Nicola Davies has done in yet another informative and lively piece. She never disappoints!

We meet and are privy to the first six months in the life of a young dolphin:

"Tail first, head last,
Dolphin POPS out
into the blue."

As we read his story, the author puts small bits of relevant information on one corner of each double-page spread. We watch mom and baby cavort in their watery playground, teaching and  learning all that is needed to know for a young dolphin to survive in a sometimes dangerous ocean world. It's amazing to see how quickly he grows, and becomes his own being. He swims independently and even begins to make new friends. He is always attuned to his mother's whistle and teaching. In six months he has grown up enough to have his own sound and name..."His name is Dolphin."

"Dolphin calves stay with their mothers for about four years.
They start to have babies at about age twelve and can live for
twenty to thirty years in the wild."
Experience wins out in this welcome new book from a noted zoologist. Nicola Davies does her research with attention to detail and shares what she has learned with gentle, charming words that will not overwhelm her audience. In an afterword, she reminds us that care must be taken of the oceans where these playful porpoises live. That will ensure their survival for years to come.  An index is most helpful in helping readers find their way back to favorite pages.

Brita Granstrom creates lovely acrylic paintings that take us right into the depth of the waters with the baby and his mother. Mostly rendered in the blue world that is their habitat, there are splashes of sunshine yellow and the dark of the ocean deeps. Appealing and full of expression, they are sure to attract the attention of anyone wanting to know about the dolphin.

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