Pipaluk and the Whales

Overview

Based on an actual event, this moving story tells how a young Chukchi girl named Pipaluk saves the lives of thousands of beluga whales trappped in a channel with ice closing in around them in the Russian Arctic. When Pipa and her father discover the whales, their entire village comes together in a valiant effort to rescue the creatures. Finally, an ice-breaker arrives, cutting an opening to the sea for the whales. But the engine noise frightens the creatures, and it takes a clever plan of Pipa's to lure the ...
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Overview

Based on an actual event, this moving story tells how a young Chukchi girl named Pipaluk saves the lives of thousands of beluga whales trappped in a channel with ice closing in around them in the Russian Arctic. When Pipa and her father discover the whales, their entire village comes together in a valiant effort to rescue the creatures. Finally, an ice-breaker arrives, cutting an opening to the sea for the whales. But the engine noise frightens the creatures, and it takes a clever plan of Pipa's to lure the whales to open water. At the end of the book, an author's note describes the real-life event that inspired this beautiful story.

Pipaluk and her father enlist the aid of their villagers and even the government to help save a group of whales stranded in a frozen inlet, but only Pipa can figure out a way to finally lead the whales back out to sea.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This magnificent retelling of a true story will mesmerize children and surely touch the hearts of any older readers. Pipaluk, or Pipa, lives with her family in a tiny village off the frozen waters of the Bering Sea in Russia. One day, as she and her father travel home from her first hunting trip, their sled dogs stop to listen for something humans cannot hear. Pipa and her father, led by the dogs to an ice ledge, spot thousands of beluga whales trapped in a savssat, or ice hole. Because of the sudden cold the ice hole has closed up, preventing the whales from swimming beneath the ice to freedom in the open sea. Pipa and her village work together chipping at the ice in hopes of freeing the friendly, frightened belugas. Just when it appears that nothing can be done to save the whales, something extraordinary occurs, offering the trapped whales one last chance at survival. This touching story is accompanied by vibrant and inviting illustrations. 2001, National Geographic Society, $16.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Catherine Campbell Wright
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Watercolor and colored-pencil artwork done in soft Arctic hues illustrate this story based on a real incident. In December 1984, off Russia's Chukchi Peninsula, approximately 3000 beluga whales became trapped in winter ice. The villagers of the area, normally hunters of the white whales, worked diligently to keep an area open until the end of February, when the icebreaker Moskva was able to cut a 12-mile channel in the surrounding ice. However, the now-freed whales initially refused to follow the ship, until classical music broadcast from its speakers led them out to open water. Himmelman creates a human girl, Pipaluk, as the focal character, but keeps the whales authentic. Another recent rendition of this story, Steve Schuch's A Symphony of Whales (Harcourt, 1999), also features a little girl as rescuer, but gives the story a more mystical gloss. Himmelman's simply told tale and lovely artwork bring the plight of the whales, the starry winter nights, and the efforts of the rescue team to life for this audience.-Sue Sherif, Alaska State Library, Anchorage Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780792282174
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 2/28/2002
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.19 (w) x 11.02 (h) x 0.35 (d)

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