Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival

Overview

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina crashed a forty-foot tidal wave over the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, Mississippi. The dolphin house was demolished, and its inhabitants swept from their tank into the Gulf of Mexico. After growing up in captivity, how could the eight bottlenose dolphins feed and protect themselves in the wild? And if they could survive, would their trainers ever see them again? This fascinating picture book—enriched with both beautiful color-wash illustrations and photographs taken by...
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Overview

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina crashed a forty-foot tidal wave over the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, Mississippi. The dolphin house was demolished, and its inhabitants swept from their tank into the Gulf of Mexico. After growing up in captivity, how could the eight bottlenose dolphins feed and protect themselves in the wild? And if they could survive, would their trainers ever see them again? This fascinating picture book—enriched with both beautiful color-wash illustrations and photographs taken by the trainers themselves—tells this dramatic, happy-ending story.
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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Sarah Harrison Smith
The extraordinary story of how the dolphins—who had never had to feed themselves—survived and were rescued from the Gulf of Mexico…is little short of miraculous, and as told by Janet Wyman Coleman, includes recreated dialogue and a palpable sense of suspense. Yan Nascimbene's wonderful watercolors convey first the chaos of the Oceanarium on the night the staff is preparing for the hurricane, the drama of Katrina's landing…and then the serene beauty of the gulf waters after the storm.
Publishers Weekly
This story of the rescue of eight dolphins off the coast of Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina underscores the bonds between dolphins and their trainers, as well as those among dolphins themselves. After a 40-foot tidal wave destroys the dolphin pool at the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, eight dolphins disappear, presumably washed into the Gulf of Mexico. Via helicopter and boat, the trainers set out to search for the dolphins, who were raised in captivity and thus unaccustomed to feeding or protecting themselves. Laced with dialogue that accentuates the trainers’ affection for the dolphins and sense of urgency, Coleman’s (Secrets, Lies, Gizmos, and Spies) clipped narrative recounts the rescue of all eight, who had remained together, close to shore. Spare yet theatric, the late Nascimbene’s (Crouching Tiger) dappled watercolors have a lovely silk-screened quality, contrasting the destructive force of the hurricane and the tranquility that arrives in its wake. The recounting of events is quite brief; the book’s second half consists of illustrated notes on other real-life dolphin feats and a scrapbook-style section of captioned photos about the dolphins and their rescue. Ages 6–9. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

"Laced with dialogue that accentuates the trainers' affection for the dolphins and sense of urgency, Coleman's clipped narrative recounts the rescue of all eight. . . the late Nascimbene's dappled watercolors have a lovely silk-screened quality, contrasting the destructive force of the hurricane and the tranquility that arrives in its wake."
Publishers Weekly

"A spark of hope in the wake of a devastating natural disaster."
Kirkus

"Animal lovers will empathize as they follow the trainers' worries and ultimate elation. A heartening, real-life rescue story."
School Library Journal

"Heartwarming and informative."
Booklist

From the Publisher
"Laced with dialogue that accentuates the trainers' affection for the dolphins and sense of urgency, Coleman's clipped narrative recounts the rescue of all eight. . . the late Nascimbene's dappled watercolors have a lovely silk-screened quality, contrasting the destructive force of the hurricane and the tranquility that arrives in its wake."
Publishers Weekly

"A spark of hope in the wake of a devastating natural disaster."
Kirkus

"Animal lovers will empathize as they follow the trainers' worries and ultimate elation. A heartening, real-life rescue story."
School Library Journal

"Heartwarming and informative."
Booklist

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, the Marine Life Oceanarium in Mississippi was directly in the storm's path. Fearing for the lives of the ocean park's eight dolphins, the trainers made arrangements for some of the mammals to be transferred inland, while others, thought too "at risk" to survive transfer, were left to fend for themselves. The storm, however, took the decision away from the trainers as the dolphins were pulled by the storm surge into the Gulf of Mexico. Fearful that the dolphins raised and fed in captivity, would not survive life in the wild, the trainers mounted a search and were astounded to find all eight of their animals alive and well. Now, however, came the more important battle: to keep the animals alive until they could be returned to captivity. Through additional behavior training and step-by-step coaxing, the dolphins were kept alive in the polluted Gulf at feeding stations and, ultimately, carried to safety by their caregivers. This is an amazing, true-to-life survival story, as well as a story about the interaction between captive animals and their caregivers. A subsequent section details the heroics of dolphins in the wild. Stories of dolphins saving humans and other animals in both myth and fact are included. Nuggets of information, such as the fact that dolphins are believed to have once been land animals, are fascinating tidbits that will intrigue young readers. The water color illustrations bordered with broad bands of white, are attractive, but give the true-to-life book the look of a picture book with more appeal for a younger group of readers A photographic scrapbook and an afterword on the fate of the eight dolphins will reassure young readers that all is well with these most appealing of sea creatures. A Common Core gem. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—This account of the loss and rescue of eight dolphins from a destroyed tank at the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, Mississippi, during Hurricane Katrina will intrigue readers. The animals were brought up in captivity and were unable to feed themselves in the wild, so the frantic trainers secured a helicopter and boat in the chaotic aftermath of the storm and locate the missing animals. Then after more days of training and preparation, the dolphins were recaptured from the open water and taken to their new pool. Following the lead story are four brief examples of dolphins saving people or other animals from certain death. The lovely impressionistic watercolor and ink illustrations are crisp against generous white borders, effectively capturing the frenzied storm preparations and recapture. Rounding out the book is a photographic look at the actual oceanarium, the animals, their rescue, and the aftereffects of the hurricane. Animal lovers will empathize as they follow the trainers' worries and ultimate elation. A heartening, real-life rescue story.—Carol S. Surges, formerly at Longfellow Middle School, Wauwatosa, WI
Kirkus Reviews
A spark of hope in the wake of a devastating natural disaster. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina sent a 40-foot tidal wave crashing over the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, Miss. Most of the animals were relocated before the storm, but eight dolphins were left in a large pool believed to be safe. Unfortunately, when the trainers returned, they found the pool destroyed and the dolphins gone. The waves had pulled the creatures out into the nearby Gulf of Mexico. The dolphins were not used to caring for themselves after living in captivity, so a search party was arranged. Miraculously, all eight dolphins were found--waiting together for their trainers. This survival tale is heartwarming but brief. Halfway through, under the heading "More About Man's Best Friend," the tone switches to discuss other astonishing dolphin feats throughout history. Nascimbene's full-page watercolors--of equally watery images--accompany both sections. The illustrations lack the realistic immediacy and emotional wallop of photographs but are age-appropriate for the text, which focuses solely on the dolphins. The surrounding human suffering from the storm is hinted at but never described. A scrapbook of photos and facts about the Oceanarium tale is appended. During a time of so much destruction, these eight dolphins became a symbol--they banded together and found their way home, just like the human residents of the Gulf Coast. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547719238
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 135,250
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author


Janet is a talented nonfiction children's author. Her book, Secrets, Lies, Gizmos, and Spies: A History of Spies and Espionage (Abrams, 2006), was a 2007 ALA Best Books for Young Adults nominee, recipient of the National Parenting Publications 2006 gold award, and Scholastic book fairs took about 60,000 copies of the book. Her other recent non-fiction titles include Baseball for Everyone: Stories from the Great Game (Abrams, 2003), a Publishers Weekly Best Non-fiction Books of 2003 selection, and Famous Bears and Friends (Dutton, 2002). She is the proud mother of two grown sons and lives in Wayland, Massachusetts.

Half-French, half-Italian, Yan Nascimbene shared his childhood between these two countries. After working as a photographer's assistant in a Paris fashion studio, Nascimbene studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and at the University of California at Davis. Nascimbene's illustrations have appeared in numerous publications worldwide, including Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, the New Yorker, Boston Globe, Toronto Life, Scientific American, Atlantic Monthly, Hemispheres, etc. His commercial clients include Air France, British Airways, Continental Airlines, IBM, Apple, Macy's, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Bank of America, United Way, Estée Lauder, Manpower, and more.
Nascimbene also illustrated Houghton's Hachiko by Pamela Turner and The Beautiful Christmas Tree by Charlotte Zolotow

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