When Abby Feingold’s family starts a resort, she learns about the wildlife of their new island home.
When Abby’s father married her stepmother, Rachel, Rachel’s great-aunt gifted the couple a private island in the Florida Keys. Naturally, the couple promptly quit their jobs to run a small resort. Abby quickly befriends one of the first guests, Bella Garcia, but soon Bella starts to withdraw, hurting Abby’s feelings. When Abby follows Bella, she learns Bella’s secret—a colorful bird has led Bella to a cove where a pod of dolphins lives. Bella swears Abby to secrecy about the cove, and the girls name the dolphins. Although the text gives lip service to the fact that dolphins are wild animals, that doesn’t stop the girls for long from swimming with them. When Abby overhears her parents’ concerns that their resort may not attract enough guests to stay viable, she blurts out the dolphin secret—at the cost of her friendship with Bella. The realistic characters will make it easy for readers to vicariously experience this semiwild private tropical paradise—the setting is the book’s biggest treasure. Abby and her father present as white; Rachel (with whom Abby has a delightfully close relationship) is black, with Jamaican heritage; Bella is Latina. The resort’s cook, Sofia, is Cuban, and Sofia’s nephew becomes a recurring character, as does Bella; Volume 2, Lost in the Storm, publishes simultaneously.
A good summer read.(Fiction. 7-10)