Lynne Cox is known for open water swimming — she swam across the English Channel and even braved the frigid waters off the coast of Antarctica! Her innate understanding of the ocean and its creatures is uncontested. Grayson tells her account of meeting a baby whale in the ocean during one of her early morning training swims. This lonely whale, separated from its mother, stays close to Lynne in the water while fishermen search for the mother. This true yet almost unbelievable story is hauntingly beautiful. At one point in the memoir she fears that she’s lost the baby whale. She writes “Diving below the water, I pulled as fast and as hard as I could to get down as deep as I could go. From moment to moment the world changed. I swam through a brilliant melting kaleidoscope of green, yellow, indigo, and soft blue.”
I am anxious to start the school year so I can use this text as a read aloud for my middle school students. Her descriptive and poetic style is worth using as a mentor text with students. The vocabulary and specific ocean jargon, including her descriptions of the anatomy of the whale, that she interjects easily into the text would be a perfect companion to a science lesson if I wanted to use it as a read aloud in elementary school with younger students. It would also inspire students to question and connect with the natural world around them for those teachers who promote project based learning, independent research, or taking an inquiry stance in their classrooms.
In this review I’d like to direct you to two audio clips that allow you to hear this incredible story from Lynne’s own voice and perspective. Once the story draws you in, I highly recommend reading the book to fill in the gaps left out of the audio clips.
A Whale of a Tale 8:28
Grayson: the Baby Whale 30:48