Winter is a dolphin. Just over two years ago, when she was a baby, she was rescued from a crab trap, her tail seriously damaged. Winter was rushed to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a marine animal hospital. It wasn't clear that she would survive. She did, but eventually the tail fell off and Winter compensated by swimming more like a fish than a dolphin which was seriously damaging her spine. But for the last year, Winter has been learning how to use a prosthetic tail. The idea came from a company that makes prosthetics for humans. It was very challenging but Winter is thriving and using her new tail with great command. The word has gotten out about Winter. Visitors are traveling in droves to Clearwater to visit Winter who has become an inspiration to adults and children alike, especially to children who are amputees themselves. The tale doesn't end there. The special technology used for Winter's prosthetic tail is being used to develop prosthetics for Iraq war veterans who have especially sensitive injuries.
The authors of Owen & Mzee and Knut offer a moving though less compelling chronicle of another creature in need: a bottlenose dolphin that became tangled in a crab trap off the Florida coast. After Winter was rescued and taken to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, her injured tail fell off and she learned to swim by propelling her body with a side-to-side motion. Concerned that this improvised movement would damage her backbone, her caregivers welcomed a prosthesis-creator's offer to fashion a device that mimics the motion of a dolphin tail, enabling Winter to swim normally. The chatty text, sophisticated for kids on the younger end of the age range, is accompanied by photos of varying quality. Low-res initial shots of Winter's ordeal are pixellated (“the mere fact that they were recorded at all gives us a valuable insight into the drama of this extraordinary event” reads a note); the great majority of images, however, are bright, focused and well framed. Readers will be most drawn to Winter's resilience and the dedication and ingenuity of those helping her. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)