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Isabel of the Whales


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About the Author

Hester Velmans is an accomplished translator who has won awards for her translations of adult novels. This is her first original novel. She lives in Armonk, NY.

From the Hardcover edition.


Gr 4-6-Isabel has always felt that she is someone special. While her ordinary life with family and friends near Provincetown, MA, says otherwise, the 11-year-old proves her point by falling off a boat during a whale watch. Instead of drowning, she becomes a humpback whale. Her guide, Onijonah, tells her that she has been recognized as one of the "Chosen" humans who become whales in a sort of foreign exchange, teaching and learning from one another. Isabel receives training in diving, feeding, and communication as she migrates with the herd, sharing her knowledge of such hazards as nets and whaling ships. When she is injured helping Onijonah's calf, she must decide whether to stay or seek the safety of land and her human form. While the writing about the events on land seems stilted, the novel picks up once Isabel changes form, and Velmans succeeds admirably in creating a fascinating, watery world to explore. The rather thin fantasy elements are quickly eclipsed by the real magic of whale life. Isabel's pack is presented in detail, each character realized and believable, and the book's pacing and mood highlight the dangers of storms and the comforts of humpbacks' communal existence. Readers will want to move straight from Isabel to the 590s to find out more about these unique mammals. An excellent choice for readers who enjoy animal stories, domestic fantasy, or even nonfiction.-Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Fantasy and reality merge in this aquatic coming-of-age adventure with a compelling ecological message. . . To Velmans's credit, the improbable seems probable through the eyes and voice of her down-to-earth heroine. Watch out Little Mermaid, here comes Isabel."-Kirkus Reviews

From the Hardcover edition.

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