Davies, Nicola. Manatee Rescue.
January 5th 2016 by Candlewick Press
Manuela lives with her father in a small village along the Amazon river. Her father fishes in the traditional way, with a spear, and he is anxious to kill a manatee, even though it is illegal, because it would give the family a lot of money. When her father finally kills a manatee, however, it is gruesome and bloody, and the manatee's calf survives but is injured. The calf is sold to wealthy merchant Mr. Gomez, but Manuela is worried that it will die. She and her friend Libia take the calf to Manuela's Granny Raffy's, hoping that her grandmother can heal the calf and help the girls eventually return it to the river. Granny Raffy does help, but points out that even if the calf survives, it will need special food, and will likely be killed if returned to the wild. She encourages the girls to make a plan to educate the village about how important manatees are to the environment. The girls name the manatee Airuwe and have a "meet the manatee" event for their village. When Mr. Gomez causes Airuwe harm, the villagers report him to the police, and Manuela feels that she must do more work to ensure that the manatees survive.
Strengths: This is a short (104 pages) book that moves quickly, and has the added bonus of having both environmental and culturally diverse content. It can sometimes be hard to get students to investigate books like this, so the short length helps. Once I get students to read this author's The Lion Who Stole My Arm, they frequently want to know more information about Africa. Davies is a zoologist who includes lots of good information about manatees. Can't think of another fiction book that includes this!
Weaknesses: This would be great for elementary libraries, but is rather short and simple. I'd like to see middle school students read something longer and more in depth on such an important topic; not the fault of the book.
What I really think: Will purchase and recommend, and hope that my readers will move on to longer books with more information.