How to Speak Dolphin

How to Speak Dolphin


272 pages


Schneider Family Book Award-winning author Ginny Rorby has created an irresistible dolphin story about a girl's struggle to help her autistic brother and herself.
Lily loves her half-brother, Adam, but she has always struggled with him, too. He's definitely on the autism spectrum--though her step-father, Don, can barely bring himself to admit it--and caring for him has forced Lily to become as much mother as sister. All Lily wants is for her step-father to acknowledge that Adam has a real issue, that they need to find some kind of program that can help him. Then maybe she can have a life of her own.
Adam's always loved dolphins, so when Don, an oncologist, hears about a young dolphin with cancer, he offers to help. He brings Lily and Adam along, and Adam and the dolphin--Nori--bond instantly.
But though Lily sees how much Adam loves Nori, she also sees that the dolphin shouldn't spend the rest of her life in captivity, away from her family. Can Adam find real help somewhere else? And can Lily help Nori regain her freedom without betraying her family?



Publié par
Date de parution 26 mai 2015
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780545676083
Licence : Tous droits réservés
Langue English

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Born in a gush of blood, the dolphin calf’s initial sense of the world is tail first into water colder than her mother’s body. Her mother zips away to break the umbilical cord. The baby holds her breath out of instinct, not knowledge, and begins to drift away from the light above her into the darkness below. She’s used to the comforting dark. Her mother is back as suddenly as she departed and pushes her calf with her beak toward the surface and into the blinding brightness. Other female dolphins, some with calves of their own, are here when this newest arrival’s blowhole opens and she takes in her first breath of the heavy warm air. Inside her mother she could only arch her back and feel the confines of the womb with her flippers and tail. In this open water, she can swim freely, but instinctively she tucks herself in close to her mother’s body and nudges one of her nipples. A jet of milk squirts into her mouth, then another, again and again until the baby dolphin is full.
Her mother will continue to nurse her for another year. During that time, the small community of dolphins roams the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It will be six months before the calf learns to follow her mother’s lead and catch her own fish. She’ll learn to follow boats because the humans sometimes share the fish they catch, tossing the scraps—skins and heads—into the water for the dolphins. The bolder dolphins are skilled at biting fish off lines, leaving only the head with the lethal hook embedded for the humans to reel aboard.
As summer approaches and the water warms, the dolphins travel to a spot where humans in boats from a place called AquaPlanet come to meet them. The first time the young dolphin sees these people squeaking and squealing at their arrival, she is frightened. She swims past the boat and turns on her side to watch. There are big humans and small humans. When the first of them steps off into the water, the calf darts away, but finds she is alone. Her mother, her aunts, and her cousins are letting the humans touch them. She draws closer. Beneath the surface, she sees bony legs dangling uselessly from a puffy orange thing that makes the small human look like he is wearing a sponge to keep him afloat. The calf comes closer to inspect him with her sonar and can see his tiny heart beat as he flails the surface of the water with thin arms. Curiosity gets the best of her and she draws closer. His face is distorted and red, and water, in big drops, drips off his chin. He lifts his arms and wails. The dolphin starts to back away, but the boy sees her and stops the terrible noise. His head begins to waggle side to side like sea grass at the mercy of a current, and he reaches out to her with a small hand. She looks for her mother and sees her with one of the other children. This must be safe. Her mother would never lead her into danger. She lets herself float toward the child’s outstretched hand. When her rostrum touches the child’s open palm, a shock runs through her; the child feels it, too. His head stills, his legs stop twitching; he smiles and makes a sound like water rolling across sand. “This is that little dolphin’s first visit to us,” a human says. “You may have the honor of naming her,” he tells the child whose cheek is now pressed against the calf’s. “What do you think, Owen?” says a woman in the water near the child. “You get to name her.” The child opens his mouth, and tries to speak. “Nor … nor …” His head falls forward, and he tips face-first into the water. His mother reaches and rights him. His eyes widen, and he starts the unhappy noise again. The little dolphin puts her head just beneath the surface and blows puffs of air out her blowhole. The bubbles, one after the other, erupt on the surface, which makes the little boy laugh. He reaches for the dolphin. “Nor … e … e … een.” “He’s trying to say Noreen.” The woman smiles. “That’s his sister’s name. Her nickname is Nori.” “Nor … e,” the boy says.
Today is the kind of day I wish I had someplace else to go, like a friend’s house. But a friend would expect to be invited to my house once in a while, and there’s no one I can trust not to tell others what my life is like. It’s my fault. I haven’t tried to make new friends since my first year at Biscayne Middle School. I’d invited a girl I’d just met over to swim. Mom was still alive, and when she left the room, that girl made fun of my brother. Adam’s weirdness was just starting back then. The next day at school, she told everyone how “the retard” spent the entire time babbling and staring at his fingers, which he wiggled in front of his face, how he went stiff as a board when Mom picked him up, and screamed bloody murder when the phone rang. Today Adam’s having one of his tantrums, and I’ve shut myself in my room. Even with my door closed and my earphones on, I can hear his screams. By the clock on my computer, this meltdown is in its third hour. I don’t hear Don, my stepfather, knock, if he bothered, but I know he’s opened my door because the volume of Adam’s shrieks goes up. He motions. “Come on.” “I’m trying to do my homework.” Not true, of course, but studying is the only excuse that sometimes works. “Lily. I need you to help me.” “Where’s what’s-her-name?” He hired a new nanny yesterday. “She quit an hour ago.” I give her credit—she lasted a couple hours longer than the last three. “Did you try his dolphin movie?” I ask. Adam would watch his scratchy and sticky DVD over and over all day long if we let him, so we usually save it for mealtimes. If he’s watching it, he’s more likely to eat what gets put into his mouth. “I’ve tried everything.” I follow Don to the living room, where Adam lies on his back in the soft-sided, large-dog play yard Don bought at PetSmart. He’s kicking and flailing his arms, and he’s pooped his pants. Kind of like my life—the smell is awful. Don puts his hands in Adam’s armpits, lifts and holds him out so he doesn’t get kicked in the stomach. “Take his pants off.” I almost gag from the smell. He’s got poop down his arms and legs, up his back, even in his hair. Stiff-armed, Don carries him into the backyard. I get the hose, which we leave coiled in the sun so the water will be warm. Adam’s voice is hoarse, but he’s still crying and kicking, trying to get away. I glance at our neighbor’s house and see Mrs. Walden at her kitchen window. I think she had her gardener trim her hedge just so she could spy on us. She doesn’t even pretend to look away. Don holds