Home > Categories > Books > Kids - Junior > Pelorus Jack the Dolphin Guide review
This is the heart-warming tale of Pelorus Jack, a rare white Risso's dolphin who delighted passengers over 100 years ago as he guided steamships through the rough waters of French Pass into the calm waters of the Marlborough Sounds.
Passengers from around the world, even royalty, came to see him and it is believed he became the first sea creature to be protected by law in any country.
I was really keen to review this book as I am old enough to have heard of Pelorus Jack when I was young. When I was a child it was a story we heard from the old people and it is fantastic to see it in print so eloquently. It is a lovely new zealand story I am keen to gift to another generation. The fact this is a 1904 story is amazingly relevant and beautiful to share. This is a timeless classic for me. A short story well crafted.
The illustrations are vivid and careful. I loved the complexity and colour used. The illustrations reach the edge of the page and are great and detailed. The friendly personality of Pelorus Jack is shown really well. I think the visuals are something children will return to year on year as they are very eyecatching and unique (I remember some of the unique illustrations in the books of my childhood even now).
The extra details covered like the fact it was a Risso dolphin is of great interest and I am glad it is covered in the story as well. I think details like this make it for slightly older children (8 maybe) rather than the usual 4 - 6 for picture books in my head. The language used and the references to taniwha make it a truly New Zealand story as well. There was an uplifting sense in the story which I also like in illustrated books for children.
The importance of protecting animals and the fact New Zealand made a law around this is a great story too. I grew up on scholastic books and this is yet another example of why they should be supported. I liked that the fiction was the story but the back of the book reiterated which bits were fact and which were story. I feel this is the sort of book to leave on the shelf and revisit year after year to get a little more from. A perfect addition to a bach collection and a wonderful summer read
A wonderful summer read.
Pelorus Jack the dolphin guide is an incredible book based on a true New Zealand story! How cool is that right? Pelorus Jack was a rare white Risso dolphin not normally seen in New Zealand waters so his story is so special. Having this book to share with children of all ages is something I will treasure as I love sharing true stories that tell tales of our countries past.
So other than being a rare white Risso dolphin Pelorus Jack was also special because of the way he guided ships through the treacherous waters of the Pelorus Sound in the south island of NZ. He was a cheeky, playful dolphin who had many people come just to get the opportunity to see him. He sounded like a real character even shunning those ships who were cruel to him and leaving them to manoeuvre the pass without his guide. That was rather unfortunate for them because he truly was a magnificent guide keeping the ships safe from danger.
Both the author and illustrator really captured the spirit of the dolphin and his nature through the playful words used to describe him and the stunning imagery. I love how he was described in the opening passage "the moon white dolphin glided through the glittering sea" perfect hook to draw the reader in to enjoy this incredible story. We loved the illustration of Kupe being guided through the waters by the taniwha and the connection this had to Pelorus Jack and beliefs people had about his presence. The monotone image with pops of blue and traditional koru designs is stunningly eye-catching.
Through the story we learn how he got his name, we get hints at people in history who visited him like the royals from a distant land and Rudyard Kipling. We also learn just how important he was to the people of New Zealand after an attempted shooting turned into a protest at parliament to have Pelorus Jack protected. We thought this was brilliant especially that a order was passed to protect him. He appeared in newspapers around the world he really was a special dolphin and a special part of New Zealand history. Though I'd never heard of him before reading this book it brought a smile to my face learning his story and even though he is no longer there I'd certainly keep my eyes open for a sight of him if I was near those waters.
The book is a great book to share with children of all ages and could likely be read independently by children 7 and up. It is written in fiction form with a stand alone page at the back of the book explaining the true story. It is so important to have special books like that to teach children the important parts of the countries history.
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