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“You put yourself in terrible danger. I know you care passionately about manatees, about any wild thing for that matter, but you won’t help anything if you react on impulse,” Gretchen. –Manatee Blues
Vet Volunteers #4
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Brenna, Maggie, Zoe, and Dr. Mac fly to Florida to visit a manatee rescue center. The center is run by Dr. Mac’s friend, Gretchen. Because running the rescue center is expensive, the center is in danger of closing. Brenna is immediately drawn to the endangered, gentle giants, and wants to do whatever she can to help them and the center.
Brenna is passionate about helping manatees, but her impulsive actions put both Brenna and the manatees in danger. While at the center, Brenna and her friends help with a fundraiser, but will the center get enough funds to stay in business? Can Brenna find a way to help the animals?
Anyone who has ever dreamed of being a marine biologist will enjoy Manatee Blues. Brenna’s personality and passion for manatees is inspiring. Told from Brenna’s point of view, the story focuses on her desire to help injured manatees. However, Brenna doesn’t always think before she acts, which gets her into trouble. Readers will relate to Brenna, who wants to make an impact but isn’t sure what she can do to help.
Manatee Blues blends action, internal conflict, and information about manatees into an interesting story that highlights the importance of keeping animals wild. Gretchen says feeding wild animals is “being selfish, thinking about what we want, not what’s best for them.” Readers will learn about the dangers that manatees face as well as other interesting information about the animals. The end of the book has more facts about manatees as well as information about how readers can adopt a manatee.
At 119 pages, the plot is not well developed. However, the story is educational, interesting and will keep the reader’s interest. The happy ending is slightly unrealistic; however, the conclusion shows that one person can make a difference. The short chapters, interesting plot, and relatable characters make Manatee Blues a book that will appeal to readers of different ages.
- A boat injures a manatee. Gretchen and the group go to help the animal and see “horrible gashes that have opened up the skin on the manatee’s back—seven deep, straight lines, four of them curving around her side.” The animal is given pain killers and antibiotics.
- The rescue center has an injured manatee that “had some jerk’s initials carved into its back with a knife.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- The rescue center has an injured sandhill crane that was “run over by a drunk driver.”
- Darn is used once.
- Brenna dives into the ocean to help a trapped manatee. When Gretchen scolds her, Brenna thinks, “You idiot! What did you think she was going to do—pat you on the back?”
- A baseball player named Ronnie Masters was speeding on his boat. “Maggie thinks he’s the biggest jerk who ever lived in the history of the universe.” Maggie also thinks he’s a loser.