06 July 2010

Review: A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker

Before his eleventh summer, Joseph Morse had never traveled much beyond his native Georgia near the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains. That was to change the day his aunt Kate emailed him from Barrow, Alaska, asking if he could help her tend an orphaned polar bear cub named Delta. With permission from his parents, Joesph spent the summer helping Kate care for Delta in a small research shack in the Arctic Circle.

A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker could have been just another cute animal story geared to a middle reader audience. Instead it is a complex story involving three generations and weaves together environmental issues, politics, danger, intrigue, mystery, friendship, treasures, and even love.

The polar bear cub, Delta, is at the heart of the novel, and as we discover her story, we learn about some of the ways oil companies try to get around environmental restraints on drilling locations and the effects of global warming on polar bear habitats. We are exposed to these issues in a casual manner as Joseph is introduced to Delta and as we read about Kate's research.

Another story line involves solving the mystery of how Delta became orphaned. The researchers, research assistants, and Joseph and his friend Ada all end up investigating the situation, and here's where the action is found. The friendship between Ada and Joseph and the way they work together to find clues not only show that preteen boys and girls can get along but that they can be mutually respectful and equally intelligent.

A Place for Delta packs even more between the covers: life in Barrow, life in Georgia, friendship between professional women, how to rescue a wild animal, cooperation among generations, and some of the ways biological research is conducted.

Walker is never heavy-handed in her messages, making the novel appeal to a wide range of readers. Parents, teachers, and children of all ages who are interested in learning more about polar bears, the Arctic, and the environment will appreciate the glossary and resource section at the back of the book. Other readers will enjoy the novel as an animal story and/or be caught up in the mysteries.

The text is broken up by subtle and lovely etched ink (I think!) illustrations of Delta, and other scenes and Ada and Joseph's notes are rendered as if handwritten. These touches offer periodic small breaks for the young reader.

To learn more about the book, Melissa Walker, Richard Walker (the illustrator), and polar bears, visit the novel's website. A Place for Delta won the 2010 International Book Award for Best Children's Fiction.

A Place for Delta at Powell's
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Published by Whale Tale Press, 2010
ISBN-13: 9780982478400
Challenges: 100+
YTD: 61
Source: Review copy (see review policy)
Rating: A
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

21 comments:

Sandy Nawrot 7/6/10, 7:00 AM  

It sounds refreshing - no bullying, no vampires. Messages without preaching. We need more like this!

Sandy Nawrot 7/6/10, 7:16 AM  

It sounds refreshing - no bullying, no vampires. Messages without preaching. We need more like this!

Julie P. 7/6/10, 7:25 AM  

This does sound like a sweet book. I think the pencil etchings look very sweet.

Beachreader 7/6/10, 7:59 AM  

Thank you for this review. I am always looking for something to read to my class (we have a 20 minute silent/oral reading time period in our school day) that is either historically based or on a current event topic that will keep 7th graders focused. This will be perfect to start the new school year. Thanks again.

Jenn's Bookshelves 7/6/10, 8:10 AM  

My boys loved Walker's other book; we definitely need to check this one out!

wisteria 7/6/10, 8:25 AM  

I just finished a book called An Eagle Named Freedom by Jeff Guidry. It is about a center in Washington State for the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife. It was so much more than the author's cancer survival. I loved it.
This book sounds like something I would really enjoy. Thanks, Beth

Julie P. 7/6/10, 9:33 AM  

This does sound like a sweet book. I think the pencil etchings look very sweet.

Beachreader 7/6/10, 9:34 AM  

Thank you for this review. I am always looking for something to read to my class (we have a 20 minute silent/oral reading time period in our school day) that is either historically based or on a current event topic that will keep 7th graders focused. This will be perfect to start the new school year. Thanks again.

JennsBookshelf 7/6/10, 9:35 AM  

My boys loved Walker's other book; we definitely need to check this one out!

Wisteria 7/6/10, 9:36 AM  

I just finished a book called An Eagle Named Freedom by Jeff Guidry. It is about a center in Washington State for the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife. It was so much more than the author's cancer survival. I loved it.
This book sounds like something I would really enjoy. Thanks, Beth

Beth F 7/6/10, 9:57 AM  

Thanks, Wisteria. I'll have to look for the Eagle book.

Beachreader: I think this would make a great classroom book.

Michele at Reader's Respite 7/6/10, 12:20 PM  

I really am looking forward to reading this one. As a native of Alaska (and someone who has spent waaaay too much time in Barrow), environmental issues are a big deal to Alaskans and is the one issue guaranteed to polarize us (no pun intended). I guess you probably know which side of the fence I fall on, but it's not always the popular one with my fellow Alaskans who depend on the pipeline for work.

Can't wait to read this!

Sheila 7/6/10, 12:29 PM  

Hi Beth. Really nice blog. Thanks for the connection to Shop Indie and an intelligent look at some interesting books.

Sheila 7/6/10, 12:29 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
bermudaonion 7/6/10, 2:28 PM  

This sounds like a very timely book with the environmental issues.

Veens 7/6/10, 9:52 PM  

Sounds really good. Something totally different! Loved yur review.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 7/7/10, 7:37 AM  

"etched in ink (I think!)" - Don't you wish info about the illustrator and his/her technique were included?!

A PLACE FOR DELTA sounds like it will appeal to a wide range of readers (different angles for different readers, I mean). Thanks for sharing it.

Belle 7/7/10, 2:46 PM  

This sounds like a lovely book, and the illustrations make it a perfect read-aloud book for my son, I think.

happy 7/8/10, 1:20 AM  

the author obvously passionate about her love of wildlife. I love the way she crafted the novel. Not bad in a bunch:)

Sherrie 7/11/10, 11:44 AM  

Hi Beth,
Sounds like a great book. I'll have to check this one out. Have a great day!

Sherrie
Just Books

Laura @ I'm Booking It 7/11/10, 2:26 PM  

I'll have to run this by my daughter again some time, it sounds good!

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