White Dolphin by Gill Lewis, is an adventure story for boys and girls aged 7 and up, about conservation.
Kara is permanently in trouble. Her mother, a marine biologist, disappeared over a year ago on an overseas trip. Kara is convinced that she is coming home, but nobody else is, and Kara is angry and despairing, with nobody to talk to. Her emotions lead her to lash out at school and she becomes the subject of bullies, and permanently in trouble with teachers who try to understand her, but who she feels alienated from.
Kara’s dad is finding it hard to make ends meet, and he and Kara end up living with her Aunty Bev and cousin Daisy, also in financial difficulties and with another baby on the way.
Kara takes solace in the sea, the one place she feels at peace.
One day she discovers an albino dolphin, washed up on the shore, tangled up and damaged by fishing nets. Her rescue operation prompts a conservation attempt to save the local sea bed from the fishermen’s attempts to dredge it, and push Kara and her equally outcast friend Felix into mortal danger.
This is a beautifully written book, which handles the subject of marine conservation and ecology with sensitivity, but without blunting any of the message the author is trying to convey about the peril our seas and its creatures are in.
The back story of Kara’s bereavement is also well handled, and Kara’s emotional state is well depicted, without being too soppy and sentimental.
This would make an excellent book to use if a class is studying conservation or marine ecology, and is just about short enough to be read in a term/half term depending on how long you set aside for shared reading in class time. It would also be a good book to share if you are looking for a book about bereavement.
Although the book is about a girl, there are strong male characters in the book too, and the adventure theme in the book makes it suitable for boy and girl readers.