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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Wild Orca: The Oldest, Wisest Whale in the World, written by Brenda Peterson and illustrated by Wendell Minor. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan, Raincoast. 2018. $23.50 ages 5 and up

"New calves are born travelers.
Sometimes Granny
swims a hundred miles a day.
She leads her family through
risky waters - hunting
from Alaska to California.

On one hunt, a young female
orca got trapped onshore and

Mia and her family live in the San Juan Islands in Washington state. He father is a member of a team of scientists who study the whales, and Mia has learned about these beautiful creatures at his side. She has listened by hydrophone to their songs. The day described in this book is very special - it is the day that the community comes together to sing to the whales.

"Mia has memorized the
calls of many of the
orcas in Granny's family pods:
Slick, Oreo, and Spock,
Wave Walker and Surprise."

The community sings, Mia watches carefully with her binoculars. She is aware of the many threats to these beautiful creatures. Her mother and father do their best to reassure her, despite also knowing that many things can impact the survival of these 'oldest and wisest whales'.  Much of the text is focused on Granny, 105 years old and still watching over her three families. Scientists have named them the J, K, and L pods. Granny's death in 2016 was a blow to the scientists and to the whale watchers of the islands. But, what a life she led.

Wendell Minor's striking images are sure to capture the attention of all readers who want to know more about the orcas. They breach in the midst of the junk that people so carelessly throw away. They frolic together, while the elders teach the calves real needed lessons in life. They screech for help when threatened or stranded. They sing their songs when encouraged to do so, and make their way toward the shoreline where so many are drumming and singing.  Captivating!

An author's note provides additional context and information, while the endpapers show a map of the their ocean home. 

Much has been reported this summer concerning the plight of the orca, and the need to protect their ever-dwindling numbers. 

Imagine never seeing this again!

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