Hello, friends! Our book today is Notch, The Rescued Dolphin, written by Martina Wing and illustrated by Jackie Mask, a story inspired by the viral video of Notch’s rescue.
Off the coast of the big island of Hawaii, Notch – a Bottlenose dolphin named for a distinctive scar on his back – swims happily with his pod. Notch is a daredevil, spending his days catching fish and showing off with his best friend Honi. One day, while Notch is chasing a fish for supper, he becomes caught on a fishing hook and helplessly tangled in the attached line. Unable to fully open his mouth or properly use his left flipper, he is terrified. Despite the best efforts of his family and friends, Notch remains trapped in the line, and begins to panic. Yet, with the advice of some notable and rare sea creatures of the Kona Coast, Notch will find that his salvation may lie in the hands of the very creatures who caused his problems: humans.
Based on a video of Notch’s rescue, taken by the author during a SCUBA Manta Ray encounter, this imagining of Notch’s life and what led him to approach human divers for assistance is equally heartwarming and informative. Readers are introduced to notable, real-life creatures that call the Hawaiian Pacific their home, such as a friendly tiger shark named Laverne and a ray named Big Bertha; photographs and short bios of the animals in the backmatter give a unique sense of realism to the fictional story. The narrative is filled with a calm sense of wonder and respectful admiration of the ocean and its ecosystem, and explores themes of conservation. These elements are furthered by the gorgeously detailed and realistic artwork, which deftly manages to convey emotion and scale. However, the text can often be repetitive and slow, making for a lengthy read that younger bookworms may not appreciate; though JJ adored the illustrations, she was getting fairly tired of the story about halfway though. Lastly, a pronunciation guide for the beautiful Hawaiian names and phrases would have been a welcome addition for haole readers such as myself. But otherwise, this fascinating tale is worth a read, and Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)