A Story of Healing and Hope

winter12044bf3bac_480x370Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again told by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff and Craig Hatkoff ( Turtle Pond/Scholastic, $16.99, ages 4-8) is the kind of story that comes along only once in a blue moon and manages to capture hearts with its universal message of hope and healing.

Once a 3 month-old bottlenose dolphin got caught up in a crab trap and, despite being rescued by an astute fisherman and brought to safety at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, lost her tail. Named after the chilly night on the day she was rescued, Winter beat all odds and survived although she suffered from extreme exhaustion and life threatening injury. Somehow this determined dolphin compensated for the loss of her appendage by eventually learning to swim from side to side like a fish instead of using the up and down motion employed by dolphins.

Abby Stone, the head dolphin trainer at CMA along with volunteers, bottle-fed Winter who grew stronger, but it was soon evident to Winter’s caretakers that there could be potential damage to Winter’s backbone as long as she continued swimming the wrong way. At the same time, Winter’s willpower, enthusiasm and infectious personality earned her a loyal following and fan base. She inspired others to face their challenges as she overcame hers. After lots of publicity and media attention, Kevin Carroll of Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics, a creator of prostheses (devices that replace lost arms and legs), designed and engineered a new tail for Winter. This device was able to mimic the up and down movement Winter needed. With the success of Winter’s prosthetic clearly proven, Carroll could then try to put the same material to work for humans. Today Winter thrives at CMA and her spirited nature continues to amaze, entertain and motivate others around the world!

If this is not a story of endurance and encouragement, I don’t know what is. I strongly encourage families to read this book together and then go to the website by clicking here to find further interesting Winter-related activities. You can also visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida or go to their website to learn more about Winter, see videos, blogs and more .

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