Slow Down for Manatees

Overview

Manatees are the gentle giants of southeastern coastal waterways. An endangered species, their biggest threat is humans, who unwittingly hit them with their boats in shallow waters.

Jim Arnosky's conversational narrative tells the story of one such accident, which leads the manatee to be taken to a rescue and rehabilitation facility. There they discover that the manatee is pregnant. And while she recovers and gives birth to a healthy baby, she longs to be free. Ultimately, both ...

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Overview

Manatees are the gentle giants of southeastern coastal waterways. An endangered species, their biggest threat is humans, who unwittingly hit them with their boats in shallow waters.

Jim Arnosky's conversational narrative tells the story of one such accident, which leads the manatee to be taken to a rescue and rehabilitation facility. There they discover that the manatee is pregnant. And while she recovers and gives birth to a healthy baby, she longs to be free. Ultimately, both manatees are released into the wild-a huge success for the people who intervened in saving the animal.

Arnosky's intimate storytelling and brilliant art will draw children right into the subject, and makes for an important addition to conservation units.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Cherie Ilg Haas
Inspired by an actual event, this is the compelling story of a manatee that is swimming peacefully amongst the fish and reeds of the coast of Florida until a terrible collision with a boat. Fortunately, the injured manatee is found and cared for until it is released back into the wild, in the process bestowing an amazing surprise upon its caretakers. The book is written in a matter-of-fact voice that provides (mostly) just the facts of the events. While this tone may not be well-suited for all children's books, here it conveys an appropriate tone to the situation at hand. Sharing this book with the younger generation will help everyone—especially those who are fortunate to live around sea life—to appreciate the delicacy of life and the importance of treating it carefully. On an artistic level, the author's love for wildlife is apparent in the touching paintings on each page. The manatees are the focus of the images, and although people do play a role, they're shown in such a way that the focus is never taken off of the mysterious, majestic manatee. Reviewer: Cherie Ilg Haas
Publishers Weekly
Arnosky (A Manatee Morning) again focuses on this gentle marine mammal in a story inspired by an actual incident. A fast-moving boat hits a manatee swimming in a shallow Florida canal, crushing her ribs and slicing her back and tail with its propeller. Rescuers move the animal to an aquarium, where her wounds heal and she gives birth to a calf. After mother and baby are returned to the wild, a sign is placed in the waterway, warning skippers to slow down and watch for manatees. “And from then on, that's exactly what the boaters did,” writes the author, in a happy if perhaps overly optimistic ending. With the exception of a few striking night scenes, Arnosky's acrylic artwork most resembles vintage “Greetings from Florida!” postcards, as pale washes bring to life the aquamarine waters, fuchsia sunrises, and assorted wildlife of the tropical setting. Text and art work in tandem to present a portrait of a gentle, innocent creature (“She wasn't in a hurry. She had all the time in the world”). A solid addition to naturalist Arnosky's oeuvre. Ages 3–5. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—A pregnant manatee swimming in the shallow waters of a Florida canal is injured when a fast-moving motorboat hits her, cutting her back and tail with its propellers and crushing her ribs against the canal bottom as it passes over her. Luckily, the accident is observed by some fishermen who alert a rescue group that has the equipment to remove her from the canal to a seaside aquarium tank where she can be observed and heal. She soon becomes a favorite of aquarium visitors and, after she gives birth to a healthy calf, both are returned to the same canal where the cow was found, along with a sign—"SLOW DOWN! MANATEES." This fictional account of an actual event is told in a brief, straightforward text. An author's note advises readers that manatees, a protected endangered species, have few natural enemies. Their primary "predators" are boat propellers, which can inflict fatal wounds on them. Once again, Arnosky has produced a short nature lesson designed to introduce young children to an animal and its habitat and to develop appreciation and respect for the natural world. His appealing realistic acrylic wash paintings—most featuring the bright aqua, marine blue, and yellow-greens of the ocean—accurately convey the action.—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
A pregnant Florida manatee, accidentally injured by a passing motorboat, is rescued and rehabilitated in a tank on land, where she gives birth before both are released back into their canal home. This straightforward account is gently told. No fault is implied; indeed, in an afterword, Arnosky stresses that boaters are usually quite careful, but accidents do happen. His pastel acrylic paintings stretch across the gutters, set off from the text by a wavy ribbon of color implying the separation of the manatee's watery world. On the text side, tiny insets offer other scenes from the manatee's natural environment. A few double-page spreads add emphasis and variety: the drifting wounded manatee, two night views with the baby and, finally, the pair returning to their home, where a new sign says "Slow down! Manatees." Though fiction, the story was inspired by an actual event, and the author's customary attention to environmental detail makes it an excellent companion to his All About Manatees (2007) and A Manatee Morning (2000). (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399241703
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 2/4/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 5 Years
  • Lexile: AD860L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Arnosky

Jim Arnosky is well known for his "keen observations of nature and his fine artistic talent" (School Library Journal). He has written and illustrated many children’s books. Otters Under Water was called "first-rate natural history for the youngest" by Kirkus Reviews (pointer review), and School Library Journal wrote that in it "each of his creatures exhibits a distinct individualism." Every Autumn Comes the Bear was called "vibrant, translucent and strikingly composed" by Publishers Weekly, and Booklist wrote "Arnosky's radiant pictures have a dazzling sense of pattern and composition . . . and a sense of mystery. A beautiful, imaginative, and informative approach." School Library Journal said of Rabbits & Raindrops, “Perfect for story-time or lap-time reading, this book will give children a feeling of security and contentment.”

Jim Arnosky and his family live on a twenty-acre farm in Vermont.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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