Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again Book Poster Image
Inspirational story of a dolphin who beats the odds.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids will learn a bit about dolphins, from biology to social behavior, and how human trainers work with them. They’ll also learn about the challenges of designing prosthetic devices.

Positive Messages

Winter wouldn’t have made it without the extraordinary efforts of a great many people. There’s much to appreciate here about community, connection, and overcoming obstacles.

Positive Role Models & Representations

From the fisherman who spotted a baby dolphin in trouble to the volunteers, researchers, and innovators who helped her survive and thrive, this story is full of people demonstrating compassion, responsibility, generosity, and ingenuity.

Violence & Scariness

Mentions how the dolphin got stuck in a crab trap, but doesn't dwell on the injuries.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know there is nothing of concern in this animal tale. It opens with a badly wounded dolphin caught in a crab trap, but doesn't dwell on the details of her injuries. The rest of the book focuses on positive developments in her rehabilitation. Families may want to go online after reading this book and check out the Scholastic Discussion Guide or take a 45-minute Virtual Field Trip to visit Winter.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKevinWWJD2 September 30, 2011

This it the true life story which became Dolphin Tale (the 3D Movie, released 9-30-11)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and wish I had it when my 3 kids were in preschool or elementary school, but the events probably had not yet happened (t... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old March 31, 2012


This book is amazing! It is educational in a way also. I would definitely recommend this book.
Kid, 8 years old May 27, 2010
I think that we sold care for dalfins

What's the story?

In December 2005, a fisherman happens to notice a baby dolphin entangled in a crab trap. Rescuers free her, but the badly injured dolphin eventually loses her tail. Under the care of staff and volunteers at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Winter learns to swim -- but by swishing from side to side, like a fish. While her ability to adapt is impressive, her trainers grow concerned that she is damaging her spine with her new technique. The solution: a specially engineered prosthetic tail, with an innovative design that leads to improvements in prostheses for humans as well.

Is it any good?

Children and parents will cheer for gutsy Winter, who overcomes great challenges and touches the hearts of people around the world. The story is inspiring, and this telling makes the most of Winter’s spirited personality. The focus here is admirable -- on hope, resilience, and helping each other -- but parents may lament missed opportunities for detail and depth. More science and context (How unusual is Winter’s prosthetic tail? Are prostheses for animals common?) would have greatly enhanced the tale.
The back section of the book provides more information on dolphins and their trainers, the aquarium, and the company that made Winter’s tail (some of it seems to come straight from press releases, however). Parents who want to explore the material further can download material from Scholastic.

Serviceable photographs show researchers and trainers working with Winter, and how her prosthetic tail is constructed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all the people who have helped Winter. Do you think she would have survived on her own?

  • Kids may have more questions about prosthetic devices. Talk about different types of prostheses, from George Washington’s dentures to modern prosthetic lower limbs that allow runners to compete. How do these devices make a difference in people’s lives?

Book details

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