Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Place for Delta

by Melissa Walker, PhD
272 pages, includes glossary and further reading

     Every once in awhile I'm contacted by an editor, or publicist, to read a certain book because it matches my interests. You never really know if the book is going to be a good fit but this one was perfect.   A Place for Delta, sent to me by  Lisa Roe, from Online Publicist, is an environmentally-friendly, pay-attention-to-the-world-around-you, kind of book!   It is a fast read with great details, the first book of a series,  and I love when a series excites kids about reading! 

 Synopsis from Whale Press website:

The first book of the series, A Place for Delta, was published in June 2010, and has already been selected by International Book Awards as winner of the Best Children’s Fiction category. It is a 272-page, smythe-sewn, jacketed hardcover; a middle reader chapter book for 9-12 year-olds. A Place for Delta captivates, inspires, and empowers children. The novel incorporates current environmental concerns into the narrative of one family’s multi-generational adventures. Eleven-year-old Joseph travels to Barrow, Alaska, the most northern town in the United States, to help a group of wildlife biologists care for an orphaned polar bear. Stationed at a research center with his Aunt Kate, Joseph becomes a player in a complex web of mystery, scientific discovery and danger.

    I appreciated how this book merged a great story with such deep scientific facts.  As a non-sciencey-type person I enjoyed learning about the natural environment of both Georgia and Alaska.  The above synopsis mentions the multi-generational structure of the book so you get a feel for how important the link is between our past and our future.  Most of the story focuses on Joseph and his Aunt Kate taking care of Delta, first in the Alaska research center and later at a natural habitat on Joseph's grandmother's Georgian farm.  Kate records data for Dr. Yu as he strives to learn more about the polar bear population and how global warming, and the local oil companies, may or may not affect their survival.  He discovers a young polar bear on an ice floe one morning and later they find the mother bear dead.  A mystery unravels as Joseph flies to Barrow, Alaska, to help his aunt care for the baby bear.  Taking care of Delta turns out to be only part of his grand adventure.

   Because my 15-year-old son has traveled to Alaska three times for fishing excursions I kept fact checking with him.  "Would you actually see a moose close to downtown Anchorage?"  and he would answer me (an exchange of conversation occurred-YEAH), filling me in with all sorts of his own details.  Yes, it is possible to run into a moose in Anchorage and he knew of the spot Walker makes reference to in the tale.   I was happy that each time I fact checked he was able to answer in the affirmative and it was a great way for me to hear more about his previous trips.   I love a story that has the details correct-even fiction needs to make sense most of the time.

     Melissa Walker has created a timeless tale using current  issues, interesting cause and effect, problem-solving and makes it all very mysterious.   It also is written in language easy-to-understand so students won't feel overwhelmed. 

Random Quote:
Inside the toy box, Joseph found a fuzzy wind-up mouse for Delta to chase, a blue ball the size of a canteloupe, and a bag of large foam blocks.  Then he sat down on the floor next to the cub.  For a few minutes, she was still as they looked into each other's eyes.  Joseph wondered what could be going on in her mind.  All he could do was stare back, almost hypnotized by her gaze.  Slowly Delta moved closer to Joseph.  (97)
Kids will want their own "Delta" to feed and play with, perhaps opening their minds to the real issues facing all Arctic animals.  Highly recommended for middle grade and everyone above, science read-alouds, animal lovers and earth-friendly classrooms.  I look forward to the next book in Walker's Delta series.  Thank you Lisa for sending me a copy. 

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(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This seems like a very sweet book. Love the cover.

Tina's Blog said...

This one is going on my wish list. It sounds great- and just right up your alley!