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Dayle Campbell Gaetz
Vancouver, Pacific Education Press, 1994.
128pp, galley, ISBN 0-88865-069-8 (paper) $8.95. CIP

Subject Heading:
Sea lions-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11

Reviewed by Hugh A. Cook

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

This is an enjoyable story that, children in the Junior grades will find touching and suited to their concerns about the environment.

Some Steller sea lions have the misfortune to be in the path of some angry fisherman returning from a fruitless voyage. The men take their frustrations out on the sea lions, which they partially blame for the lack of fish in Pacific coastal waters. Although we are not told, it is probable that the mother of one of the young is shot. Also wounded, her young sea lion does its best to escape to safety. Still too young to fend for herself adequately, the sea lion flees to the shelter of some small islands. She narrowly escapes the attack of some killer whales and finally takes shelter under a dock in a quiet cove.

Kristie, a nine-year-old girl, feeling abandoned now that her best friend has moved away, befriends the young, wounded sea lion. The prejudices of the local fishermen against most fish-eating animals soon endanger the survival of the sea lion, which Kristie has named Salena. Storms, ignorance and fear also add greatly to the chance that Salena will soon die. The veterinarians from Undersea World are summoned when Kristie is convinced by her mother that Salena needs help. The trust that Salena extends to Kristie is paramount in her acceptance of medical treatment and so Kristie is permitted to stay beside her friend even though school is in progress.

The reader meets most of the "sterotypes" involved in the current fight between fishermen and conservationists. Although we are led to hope for the sea lion's survival, the underlying theme is the preservation of all species.

This would be an excellent story to add to the Junior Fiction Library.

Hugh A. Cook (Maple, Ontario) is a retired North York elementary librarian

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