The Spirit of Springer: The Real-Life Rescue of an Orphaned Orca – Amanda Abler and Levi Hastings (ill) – Little Bigfoot – Published 24 March 2020




In 2002, a killer whale calf was discovered swimming alone in Puget Sound. This picture book follows the true story of her identification as a member of the A4 pod, a family of Northern Resident orcas living off the coast of British Columbia, and the team of scientists who worked together against all odds to save her from starvation and reunite her with her family.

The challenges of capturing Springer, transporting her north from Puget Sound to Canadian waters, and coordinating her release to facilitate a hopeful acceptance back into her family are brought to life.

My thoughts

The Spirit of Springer is a delightful story that retells the true events of the rescue and successful release of killer whale calf, Springer. The soft illustrations bring the events of the story to life. It’s a detailed and compelling story.

The writing does a fantastic job of placing the reader directly in the story, and setting the scene. The book is told from the perspective of the humans that interacted with Springer, from the ferry worker who spotter her alone to the scientists who worked to reunite her with her family. While this was a project that drew many people together, this book focuses on the work of Dr David Huff, a veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium and Dr Lance Barrett-Lennard, a marine mammal scientist.

The book explains both the media attention Springer received, the concern of the public and the details of her rescue, rehabilitation and release. Built into the story are explanations of scientific terminology, like dialect.

Dates break the story into sections and give this book grounding as a true story. It is a long story and there are many details about the efforts that went into Springer’s rescue and rehabilitation, as the scientists worked to improve her medical condition and prepare her to return to her family. The return wasn’t all smooth either, and the book explains the heartstopping moments as Springer worked to reconnect with her pod.

The last few pages of the book provide real photos of Spinger, more details about her story, a map of her journey, extra details about members of Springer’s pod and the markings that scientists use to determine orcas’ identities. There are details about why orcas are at risk, steps we humans can take to protect these amazing creatures and resources to find more information. There is even a link to live Orca cameras, which are just amazing to watch.

The Spirit of Springer is a beautiful book, perfect for capturing the attention of orca lovers and young readers alike.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category: Children’s non-fiction

Subjects: Orcas, animals, marine life, mammals, orphans, nature, rescue, rehabilitation, release.

Reading age guide: Ages 7 and up.

Published: 24 March 2020 by Little Bigfoot.

Format: Hardcover. 48 pages.

ISBN: 9781632172129

Find it on Goodreads