I thoroughly enjoyed reading Massachusetts writer Janet Wyman Coleman’s Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival. Even more importantly, I think kids will like it too. I know my child self would have!
I love books that come at common topics from unusual angles. What hooked me about this book? The dolphins. Eight Dolphins of Katrina tells the story of a group of dolphins whose home in the Marine Life Oceanarium was destroyed by the giant waves of Hurricane Katrina. Through the eyes of the dolphins’ handlers, readers tag along on the mission to protect and save the dolphins’ lives. It’s an amazing journey, and an unexpected side to the Katrina story.
Though it’s nonfiction, Eight Dolphins of Katrina really does read like fiction. I was reminded of the “True Animal Stories” and “Animal Heroes” anthologies I read by the bundle in middle school. The book doesn’t have a lot of facts about Hurricane Katrina. Instead, the only information about the hurricane are little tidbits that anchor the story in the specific time and place in which it occurred. Wonderful! Readers can get that other information elsewhere. The focus here is on the narrative and, of course, dolphins.
The backmatter of Eight Dolphins of Katrina is a treasure trove. There are other brief stories about dolphins, photos of the main story from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, bios of the eight dolphins, and a source list. The source list is where you learn a most interesting tidbit about how the book was put together: the main sources are interviews with the trainers of the eight dolphins themselves!
I would recommend this book for children who love animal stories. For children who love dolphins. For the aspiring marine biologist, and the kid who insists they will work at Sea World one day. It’s a good read.