Sunday, October 25, 2009

Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again

Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned To Swim Again

Told by: Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff and Craig Katkoff
Recommended Ages: 4-12

This delightful story is about how one baby dolphin overcame what could have been a life-ending disability, and emerged stronger than ever. Kids and adults alike will appreciate her remarkable story of overcoming adversity.

Back in December 2005, a fisherman was fishing off the coast of Florida and noticed a baby bottlenose dolphin struggling in the lines of a crab trap. He managed to set her free, but she was too hurt and exhausted to swim away. The fisherman called Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and watched over her until the rescue team arrived a few hours later. They took her across Florida to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

What follows is the remarkable recovery of the little dolphin they named Winter, due to the cold conditions the day they found her. The trainers figured she was only two or three months old at the time, an age that dolphins are still drinking their mother's milk. So they bottle-fed her a special milk formula developed for zoo animals. Under the patient guidance of the head trainer Abby and other trainers, Winter ate and began to gain weight.

Unfortunately, her tail had been severely damaged and pieces of it began to flake off. Eventually, Winter lost her tail, and the trainers wondered if she would be able to swim without it. She surprised them all by teaching herself to swim, but not like other dolphins. Instead she moved her stump side to side (more like a fish or a shark), instead of up and down like a dolphin. While the trainers were impressed, they were also worried that she would injure her backbone.

Winter became quite a celebrity at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, especially after NBC's The Today Show filmed a story about her. She became an inspiration to all, but most especially to people who had lost or been born without a limb. She charmed everyone who came to see her. However, the trainers were still worried about the way she swam because her muscles weren't as flexible as they should be.

Fortunately, a man named Kevin Carroll heard about Winter and as a creator of prostheses, thought he could help. He and his team fashioned together a prosthetic tail and sleeve that matched the natural motion of an actual dolphin tail. Then Abby and the other trainers worked to prepare Winter to get used to the feel of wearing a prosthesis. And at this point, it appears to be a success. Winter seems to like her tail, and wears it every day for a short period of time. The trainers' goal is for her to wear it enough to keep her backbone healthy and body flexible.

Kids and adults will love this story about Winter. The photos in the book chronicle her remarkable journey and the people who have helped her along the way. Click here to see an inspiring video about Winter.

BookNosher Tidbit: The same authors have created several books about animals overcoming adversity. Here's a list: Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship; How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World and Looking for Miza.

BookNosher Activity: Scholastic is sponsoring a contest for kids to write about their favorite animal hero in 200 words or less. First prize is a chance to visit Winter at her home in Clearwater, Florida, one night's stay at a hotel, $500 travel voucher, a Winter prize pack and a Nintendo DS Game system! 10 runners up with receive a copy of Winter's Tail, a Winter's Tail Nintendo DS game and a Winter plush doll!
Click here for more details.

Note: I was contacted by a publicist to see if I would review Winter's Tale. Typically, I check to see if the book is already in our library system and if it is, tell them I will look at it there. In this case, Winter's Tale was not. So she sent me the book. I am donating it to our public library so that the children in my town will get a chance to read about the little dolphin. I highly recommend you read this heartwarming tale.

No comments: