Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?