Quick. Raise your hand if you knew that a dolphin was a whale. Not a lot of hands up, are there? Not even mine. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned while reading The Adventures of the Thundering Whales. I remember wishing I had a child to read the book to. Then I realized what I really wanted was a movie version of the book, with all its characters portrayed in glorious color, like a "Finding Nemo", but with so much more to say.
Most of the time I find Children's books that anthropomorphize their animal characters lose their ability to teach. An animal (or mammal, or fish, or bird, etc.) can not take on human attributes without losing some of their own. But the author, Stephen Vadakin, has spent enough time studying marine life to allow his characters to keep their real life tendencies and reactions as true as possible. For instance, did you know that sperm whale and squid were enemies?
Vadakin not only tells a great tale, with danger and excitement and fully fleshed out characters, he includes a vocabulary lesson at the end of each chapter so that everyone involved knows what plankton, krill, fluke and bioluminescense are.
The lessons of friendship, helping and putting aside ones differences for the greater good are all demonstrated in the tale. The one thing that I found awkward was the use of third person, present tense throughout the story. It took a while to get used to hearing a children's story in present tense. I also would have enjoyed many more graphics. I suppose this is why I'd like to see this made into a movie. The different characters, while mostly in the whale family, are so distinct that only animation could do it justice.