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Summary: Kailey's new baby boy whale immediately caused a stir. First the whales were worried the baby had no tail. Then, after Kailey launched him into the air to get him some breath, his tail unfolded ... and unfolded ... and unfolded some more. It didn't take long for the other whales in the pod to give the calf a name and tease him. But, when one day the bully whales needed help, they called on "Tailey." Could he really help them after they had been so mean? This is an animal story with the importance of acceptance as its theme.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, family reading, read aloud book, learning to read
Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 10; read yourself: 8 to 10
Interest Level: 4 to 8
Age of Child: Started reading with 5½-year-old child.
Young Reader Reaction: With the first reading our child reacted to the events being played out in the story. The theme is not unfamiliar, but s/he wanted to find Tailey and the bullies on every page (not easy to do). The story obviously stuck with her, because the next day we were getting lots of questions about bullies and bullying behavior.
Adult Reader Reaction: There are some elements that separate this story from others in the genre of anti-bullying books for kids. When Tailey came to the rescue, he didn't hurt any living creatures in helping his friends. It's really subtle, but it's there. It also didn't close with immediate friendships all around.
Pros: This is a story that will resonate with children. Kids on the front side of this target audience will be particularly receptive to the social lessons offered in the book. This is a simple presentation of bullying and how bullies act.
Cons: For a story that conveys a message about judging, calling the bullies "brats" undermines the point. For children (like ours) who VISUALLY want to understand the emotions, the illustrations will leave them hanging.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a nice story, but not among the best in this genre. Between bn.com and borders, the age range for the target audience is from 4 to 11 years of age. This book would be a tough sell in that upper age bracket.
Educational Themes: The story lends itself to any number of discussions, either as the story goes along or later, as scenes or vignettes. The book does a nice job of introducing the moral dilemma (should Tailey help those who hurt him), and also that "I'm sorry" sometimes isn't enough. For the older children in this target audience, the what-would-you-do element would be valuable in transitioning from story to life.