The Whaler’s Daughter

Written by Jerry Mikorenda
Review by Linda Harris Sittig

At the turn of the 20th century in Australia, twelve-year-old Savannah Dawson dreams of the day her father will invite her to participate in a whale hunt. Living a sheltered life on a whaling station, Savannah is feisty and independent and longs to join her father’s crew. The Dawson family have built their lives around the lucrative whale oil they produce from successful hunts, but life on Reflect Bay can come with perils, as both of Savannah’s older brothers drowned in a fishing accident.

The Dawsons use orcas, also known as killer whales but part of the dolphin family, to help them locate sperm whales on a hunt. Savannah becomes friends with Figgie, an Aboriginal boy who shares the ancient knowledge his village has about the orcas. It is not until a legendary orca rescues her after her boat capsized in shark-infested waters that Savannah begins to understand the intelligence and emotions of the orca pod.

However, the townspeople view the orcas as a menace, and one greedy fishing company plans to slaughter them. It will be up to Savannah and Figgie to try and save the magnificent animals.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, although it took me a while to acclimate to all the Australian dialects spoken by the characters. Intended for audiences twelve and older, this book has a swift-moving plot, well-defined characters, and just a touch of fantasy to hold the reader’s attention to a satisfying ending. I definitely recommend it.