In 1975, Lynne Cox hadn't yet been elected to the Swimming Hall of Fame or achieved international renown as the author of Swimming to Antarctica. She was just a teenage swimming prodigy, training to eclipse the Catalina Channel world record. One morning, completing a predawn swim in chilly California waters, she realized that she had somehow picked up an unbidden companion: a baby gray whale. She knew that if she did the wrong thing and swam into shore, the 18-foot baby would beach itself and die. This magical tale tells how Lynne Cox did the right thing. It's one of the sweetest and most fascinating animal stories in years.
On a clear California morning when Cox (Swimming to Antarctica) was 17 years old, she had an unusual experience that stayed with her for 30 years, creating a spiritual foundation for her personal and professional success. In this slim and crisp memoir, Cox details a morning swim off the coast of California that took an unexpected turn: returning to shore, she discovered that she was being followed by a baby gray whale that had been separated from its mother. As Cox developed a rapport with the whale, she took on the responsibility of keeping it at sea until it was reunited with its mother. Cox expertly weaves fine details together, from the whale's mushroomlike skin to how other fish react to such a large creature. At times Cox's prose is uneven, alternating from emotional to factual, but her pure joy at connecting with Grayson (her name for the baby whale) overrides any technical inconsistencies. The combination of retelling her once-in-a-lifetime experience with her observations on life ("If I try, if I believe, if I work toward something... the impossible isn't impossible at all") will have timeless appeal for all ages. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Predawn swimming in fifty-degree water off the coast of California was routine for seventeen-year-old Lynne Cox. But for Cox, the author of Swimming to Antarctica (Knopf, 2004), one morning workout became anything but typical when she discovered an eighteen-foot baby gray whale swimming with her. Continuing to shore would spell doom for the whale if he followed, so Cox decided that even though she was already exhausted, she would stay in the water to help the baby whale, whom she named "Grayson," find his mother. Despite a number of setbacks and moments of near panic when she lost sight of Grayson for significant amounts of time, Cox refused to give up. Drawing on her inner strength and optimism, she kept going, thinking that "If I try, if I believe, if I work toward something . . . the impossible isn't impossible at all.o Cox's remarkable journey and amazing encounters with all variety of ocean life, including a particularly vivid and moving description of a large group of dolphins "just clowning around," clearly illustrate why the experience has remained etched in the memory of the famous long-distance swimmer for more than thirty years. Her lyrical prose, understated wisdom, and obvious reverence and respect for the ocean and everything that lives in it give the story a spiritual feel. Although the initial chapters lack the suspense and action of the latter half of the book, teens who stick with this quiet tale of hope and perseverance will be richly rewarded. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Knopf, 160p., Ages 12 to 18.
(See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/06) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-In a simple but suspenseful narrative, the author recounts her mystical encounter with a baby whale and his mother on a March morning 30 years ago. Then 17 years old, Cox was just completing her swim off Seal Beach, CA, and heading toward shore when the ocean became unusually rough and swarming with small fish. A large animal that she at first mistook for a shark was swimming just beneath her. In fact, it was an 18-foot-long baby gray whale. Cox was frightened and then enchanted by the playful creature that seemed to want to follow her to shore, an act that would be fatal for him. She developed an emotional bond with the whale she calls Grayson, guiding him away from the shore. Both teen and calf were hungry, fatigued, and dehydrated, but Cox, frozen to the bone in 55-degree water, was determined to find the baby's mother. With incredible optimism and courage, and the guidance and encouragement of nearby fishermen and lifeguards, Cox finally united Grayson with his huge, barnacled parent. This true adventure is as breathtaking as the exotic underwater life that the author describes in vivid detail.-Jackie Gropman, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In a sequel of sorts to Swimming to Antarctica (2004), renowned distance swimmer Cox tells the story of an ordinary practice swim that took a decidedly extraordinary turn. She was about to wrap up her workout when she realized that she was being followed by a baby whale, who had somehow been separated from his mother. Cox was dog-tired, but realized that if she came ashore, the whale would try to follow her and would die. So she stayed in the water for hours, swimming around with the baby she dubbed Grayson, waiting and watching and hoping his mother would return. Cox vividly recreates the experience of the exhausting swim. Commenting on her hunger, she writes: "All I wanted was a . . . cup of hot chocolate with a mound of whipped cream as big as Big Bear Mountain in the distance . . . or carrot cake with pecans and cinnamon and clove, pineapple and coconut, or a slice of hot apple strudel-any of these would do." The narrative transports readers to the majestic, wonderful world of the ocean, filled with dolphins, small fish and odd plants. When Grayson's mother finally turns up, Cox is astounded by her size, her girth, the barnacles on her chin, the rubbery roughness of her cheek. Still, transforming the story of one afternoon into a book-length fable, even a short book-length fable, is a bit of a stretch. The tale is burdened with overwrought musings on the meaning of the time spent with Grayson: "The waiting is as important as the doing; it's the time you spend training and the rest in between; it's the painting the subject and the space in between." Nonetheless, an inspirational, almost spiritual read, perfect for gift-giving. First printing of 100,000