Thursday, December 15, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Demi and the Dolphins: A Lesson in Ecology by Alyssa K. Harrell

Release Date: August 29th, 2011
Publisher: iUniverse (self-published)
Page Count: 98
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Bohlsen PR in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

Captain Demi is young, smart, and beautiful, but she is also stubborn and selfish. She comes from four generations of tuna fishermen. She is the youngest captain and the only female to have taken over the family business.

New laws governing tuna fishing with nets is making business difficult for her. Her family has been net fishing for generations, why should things have to change now? Demi doesn't care if net fishing drowns dolphins; they are not how she makes her living.

Demi and her crew are anxious to finish their run and head home. They need a big catch and the quickest way to do that is with the illegal nets. Convinced it is okay to do as long as no one is around to catch her, Demi prepares to drop the nets on a school of tuna. She knows some dolphin will get caught as well and drown, but all she cares about is making money.

Demi is unaware that one of her crew is also a spy for the police, and he is watching her every move in order to catch her in the act of using illegal nets. An accident occurs that puts Demi's life in peril. What happens next is magical, and becomes life changing for her.
What Stephanie Thinks: My first impression of this book was that it was going to be lame. I'm not gonna lie. The cover is obviously hand-drawn, resembling a ten-year-old's masterpiece, and the blurb makes Demi seem like the idealistic girl ("young, smart, and beautiful"!) in an idealistic problem (harming dolphins, oh no!!!!). While the drawings are pretty giggle-worthy (at best....) and the summary rather weak, I was completely wrong about Demi and the Dolphins. It teaches young kids a valuable lesson in a fantasy story involving child-approved characters and situations. How do I know they're child-approved? Well, because they were written by a child itself!

The fact that Alyssa wrote this at age 10 impresses me greatly. Obviously, this has been grammatically revised, but just the ideas spanning from the pages, as well as the intent to teach society a lesson about ecology, are sophisticated. This presented maturity is what maintains any bit of poise in this middle grade novel; it's what makes it enjoyable.

As for what wasn't so enjoyable, well... take a look:

Actually, this picture is sort of enjoyable LOL.

Here's a clear winner:
I hate when I can't tell if a girl's hair is made out of tuna or not, and when her arms look like a man's -_-

All right, I'll put my crap together. I don't mean to mimic. Because aside from the often-absurd illustrations, Demi and the Dolphins is actually a well-rendered message directed towards a thoughtless society that is so self-serving as to allow its own needs come before Earth's. I think middle grade learners will find this one effective; I also trust parents and teachers will appreciate the "kid style" of it as well.

Stephanie Loves: "When the police first approached [Mikey] earlier in the year to help with the sting operation, he thought they were talking about operating on a stingray!"

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥