Hodson’s debut introduces children to one matrilineal group of orcas living in the Pacific Northwest, an actual group of whales that has been studied by scientists for over 40 years.
What will strike readers most is how family-like the whales are. Granny, believed to be about 100 years old, nudges her newborn grandson to the surface for his first breath of air. She has valuable knowledge of the waters and salmon habits, which she passes on to Suttles and Mako as the group hunts together, sonar clicks helping them “see” their environment. Hodson lightly sketches relationships among the group, the energetic Suttles and Mako both competing and sharing as they learn to hunt, and Ruffles offering a fish to the new mother. In the end, Granny calls many matrilineal groups together to a superpod gathering, the whales greeting one another before responding vocally to the Orca Sing of the people lining the coast. . . . and Jones does a nice job of depicting Granny and Ruffles, though the other family members are less individuated. Backmatter tells of the real clan of orcas that inspired the story and fleshes out the information presented.
Certain to get children interested in learning more about this endangered and very social species.
— Kirkus Reviews (September 2012)
Environmentalist Hodson and painter Jones team up in this title that follows a 100-year-old orca and her superpod through basics of orca life, from breathing and swimming to family structure, feeding habits, and communication. Along the way, Hodson works in plenty of details about the individuating markings of each orca, communication between humans and orcas, and changing attitudes toward orca preservation. The graceful pastel illustrations extend the information about orcas and their ecosystem, and although this is a fact-filled nonfiction title, Hodson’s storytelling is skillful and far from dry. A two-page illustrated
appendix gives further information about many references, and like the central text, has an inviting rhythm for the audience. A solid research choice for the early grades, this picture book also offers an evocative experience for readers.
— American Library Assn. Booklist – Francisca Goldsmith (December 2012)
For 40 years the Orca whales of Granny’s Pd have been watched by tourists and studied by scientists off the Pacific Northwest coast. This book personifies Granny and members of the clan in a way that readers wil learn to care about them too. The reader follows the 100 year old matriarch as she lifts a newborn calf to take its first breath, travels with the family to their salmon hunting grounds, teaches young whales to to recognize the different types of fish via echolocation, and sends the call to other whale pods to clan meet-up. The back of the book contains a section of expository text that explains the science behind the story of Granny’s Clan and a list of excellent websites to learn more.
— Library Media Connection (May/June 2013)
Killer whales—orcas—are to the sea what we are to the land—intelligent, social, talkative, and playful. I love this story of Granny and her family, the J pod. Granny’s Clan perfectly combines wonderful storytelling and beautiful illustrations to captivate young minds and help them to appreciate that every individual matters, every species counts. As my late father, Jacques Cousteau, used to say, “people protect what they love.” After reading this story you will fall in love with orcas.
— Jean-Michel Cousteau, filmmaker & founder of Ocean Futures Society (July 2012)
This is a true story, pieced together from observations of an orca clan in the Pacific Northwest. The clan is lead by 100-year-old Granny. Granny babysits, teaches, and leads her family away from danger. She preserves the rituals that orca clans engage in to keep their families together.
Dr. Hodson has carefully observed orca behavior for years and she tells their tale with great insight and love. Her words make the family come to life, and Ann Jones renders the bold, black and white giants’ movements against colorful backgrounds. The illustrations invite the reader to swim along with the clan from page to page. The end of the book contains in depth information about Granny’s clan and orcas in general. It’s a great gift item for young and old alike.
— Retailing Insight – Anna Jedrziewski (September 2012)
I’m a big fan of the children’s books published by Dawn Publications. All of them have a nature theme to help children see the beauty and uniqueness of our planet’s animals, plants, and habitats. They were kind enough to send me their two newest books for review. Read on to learn more about them!
Orcas are very social animals, and this beautiful book demonstrates the closeness of an orca family, one that spans four generations. This story is based on a real family of orcas that live in the Pacific Northwest and are headed by a whale called “Granny” who is believed to be about 100 years old. As a family, all of the orcas hunt, play, and travel together. They even cooperate in raising their young. Children learn that orcas need to come to the surface to breathe, how they use echolocation, what they eat and how they get it, and especially how they all rely on each other for protection and survival. This is a beautifully written and illustrated book about a very special orca family that will delight and educate children and their families.
— Susan Heim, Chicken Soup for the Soul Editor (September 2012)
Do you know what an orca is? And do you know what orcas eat? Granny is an orca, also known as a killer whale, which is believed to be around 100 years old. She helps take care of her new great-grandchild, born to its mother Samish, along with its older sister Suttles, cousin Mako, great-uncle Ruffles, and others. A clan of orcas is known as a pod, and as Granny’s pod swims, they pass by all kinds of ocean life, are watched by humans in boats, and engage in all kinds of acrobatic activities. Sometimes several related pods get together for a party known as a superpod. Of course, the pod is in search of food. Orcas eat many different kinds of food, such as fish, stingrays, sharks, seals, and whales, but Granny’s pod hunts only salmon. Will they find any? And orcas are an endangered species. Will they survive?
Granny, who is the matriarch or Eldest Clan Grandmother, Suttles, Mako, and their family are real wild orcas which live in the seas of the Pacific Northwest region of Puget Sound and are very famous due to their appearance in the Free Willy movies. The author, Dr. Sally Hodson, who is the former executive director of the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, WA, has studied and observed these animals for many years to learn how they experience their lives and their world. And illustrator Anne Jones, a retired schoolteacher, is especially qualified to picture the orcas in her vibrantly-colored pastel drawings because she lives on the shore of Orcas Island off the coast of Washington where she can notice every detail about them and their habitat. In the back of the book are two pages of further information which will help the reader to “Dive Deeper!” and “Explore Everything Orca.” Granny’s Clan will motivate concern for endangered species and encourage youngsters to be responsible environmental stewards.
— Home School Book Review – Wayne Walker (October 2012)
Heart warming! The author cleverly uses the family structure that humans and orcas share to craft her story. The result is an approachable story that will instantly tie children to the lives of the orcas of the Salish seas. The book brings in positive and negative parts of the orcas’ lives without any doom; the book is suitable for the youngest of children, making them interested without allowing them to feel helpless by premature exposure to environmental devastation.
— International Wildlife Rehab Council – Kai Williams (August 2012)
Can you imagine being a 100 year old Granny? How about a 100 year old Granny that has spent her entire life in the Pacific Northwest Ocean? This Granny rules as the matriarch of an orca whale pod. She leads the family in searching for salmon, teaches young mothers how to care for their babies, and plays with all the pod. Third graders will learn about how the orcas live in the ocean with descriptions of daily life. With the help of soft, colorful, and detailed illustrations, the book moves beautifully through the sea with the Orcas.
The illustrations show all that Granny sees and does as the pod hunt for food and ‘talk‘ to each other. Included are many of the descriptive sounds that that the orcas make. We see the orcas swimming past sharks, squid, kelp, rock fish, octopus and other sea creatures.
Third graders will enjoy reading or listening to this book about the Killer Whales. Granny’s Clan is a nonfiction book that reads as a story which students will enjoy. Dr. Sally Hodson is a past executive director of the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Washington (http://whale-museum.org/index.html).
Students will learn more information about orcas in the back pages of the book, such as information on the orca’s distinctive fins, and the different moves that they do in the water along with other facts about the whales.
The illustrator, Ann Jones, lives on Orcas Island. During her first day of her painting the illustrations for Granny’s Clan, she hear and see a clan of orcas near the shore of her home. Her work can be viewed at www.annjonesstudio.com.
— Grade Reading – Ann Norris (April 4, 2013)
I learned a lot about orcas and their families reading my review copy of Granny’s Clan and was excited to discover that the characters in the story are actually real wild orcas in the Pacific Northwest. A children’s book steeped in years of observation (forty years of observing Granny’s and her clan in real life – Granny alone is believed to be about 100 years old!), it is one we read slowly and deliberately. Ann Jones’ beautiful illustrations distinguish the orcas from one another by real variations in their markings. This attention to detail makes it a little hard for younger children to follow along but my daughter could easily tell which orca was an adult and which was a child.
Dr. Sally Hodson’s text follows Granny from helping a newborn orca to the ocean surface for his first crucial breaths. The baby is Granny’s great-grandchild, welcomed by the other family members traveling with Granny. (Granny is now a great-great-grandmother, actually: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2012/08/new-baby-orca-born-to-j-pod/). There are details about catching and eating salmon as a family that bring up predation with veg children but the focus is on the teamwork the family employs and the learning done by a young orca that is watching. The family goes on to avoid a speedboat and wave at people on whale watching trips on hover boats with quieter engines than the aggressive speedboat.
I especially loved how Granny sings to two rambunctious young orcas that do not want to sleep. Very relatable for young children along with the family reunion of sorts at the end. A “superpod” of orcas gather together as, “[a]ll the clan families, mothers and grandmothers, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunties, grandsons and granddaughters come together again.” Hopefully all children can relate to a family unit (whatever the composition) that finds food, sings, plays, learns, and comes together.
Geared to kids ages 4 to 8, this book would be great to read on National Grandparents Day (September 9). How will you be celebrating?
— Vegbooks – (September 2012)
My husband’s fascination with whales has made me to want to learn more about these amazing creatures myself. Fortunately Granny’s Clan: A Tale of Wild Orcas ($8.95, Dawn Publications, Ages 5-9), a book about a large family of orcas, led by a 100-year-old granny, was just waiting for me to read.
What you will first notice about this book are the big, bold and beautiful pastel illustrations by artist Ann Jones who lives on Orca Island in the state of Washington. Her ability to capture the Orcas’ realistic movement in the water is impressive.
This book is based upon actual research conducted on killer whales, and the story is a true one of an actual family of whales, written by whale expert, Dr. Sally Hodson. Readers learn how the family of whales travels together, what they see when they swim through the sea and all about the sounds they make—sonar clicks and echoed calls. They will also learn about how Orcas hunt for food, what they eat and how they steer clear of potential danger.
In the back of the book is information about the real family of whales this book is based upon as well as intriguing, vital information about this species of whale and resources for learning more. Dawn Publications offers a collection of downloadable free activities for teaching with this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I’m sure there are many teachers and students out there who can appreciate it as much as I do.
— Good Reads with Ronna – Debbie Glade (January 2013)
Granny’s Clan: A Tale of Wild Orcas by Dr. Sally Hodson tells about wild orcas in the ocean. A new baby is born into the family and the eldest Orca, Granny, leads them to go fishing with the new baby. The next day they have an Orca family reunion. They go to where the boats are and while children wave they do tricks. The book is almost written like poetry. “In cold dark waters, a tiny newborn struggles to breathe. Little one, I am here to help.”
I learned that a “spy hop” is when whales leap into the air and they look around. I also learned that Orcas have family reunions like us. They do a lot of things similar to people. I loved Granny’s Clan: A Tale of Wild Orcas by Dr. Sally Hodson because it’s all about Orcas and what they do and how they react to people. The Orcas are beautiful in their natural habitats. They are very kind and gentle. I really like that a female scientist who studies whales is the author. People who love to go under the water and explore and be with animals would like this book.
— Reader View Kids – Grayce Richardson (January 2013)
. . . Granny’s Clan by Sally Hodson, PhD, is about orcas (killer whales) in the Pacific Northwest. From the beginning of the book when Granny helps her great-grandchild reach the surface to take its first breath to the end of the book when the matriarch sings songs to her whole clan that has gathered, the story follows her family as they go about their day. It is beautifully illustrated by Ann Jones. I think after reading this book, kids would love to imagine what it would be like to see these whales in the wild.
— Tropic Home & Family – Holly Ambrose (September 2012)
Just imagine—you are a young orca whale. Your special friends are two cousins and your 100 year-old great grandmother, the clan leader. You learn to play with them, face danger with them, hunt with them—and even go people-watching with them! Based on actual orca, or killer whale, research, this book combines science with the real story of how family, friendship, and a grandmother’s love are helping this magnificent but endangered orca clan to survive.
This book is a great look at a real pod of whales and all the adventures they go through – like the birth of this sweet little baby above. See how the baby’s dorsal fin is still curved from its passage through the birth canal? Isn’t that so cool? This picture was taken at the beginning of August, 2012.
At the end of this fascinating book, there are a couple pages that go more in depth about this whale family and talk about interesting whale facts, including how they speak, what they eat, and all about babies. My 4 year old son is in love with this book and has really enjoyed learning about this true story!
— Your World Natural Blogspot – Cara Nitz (September 2012)
There is a 100 year old hero living in the deep blue sea of the Pacific Northwest. She is 7,000 pound great grandmother and an awesome athlete. She has successfully led her beleaguered clan through very tough times, and is the undisputed leader. Meet, Granny, an orca ( or killer whale). The hero in this new children’s picture book. Granny babysits , plays with her great-grandchildren, and teaches them much like a human granny would do.
The whales have a language with dialects, share food, care for each other, and have traditions that are carried on for generations. This book combines science with the real story of how family, friendship and a grandmother’s love are helping this magnificent but endangered orca clan to survive.
Author, Dr. Sally Hodson, formerly executive director of the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Washington, is uniquely qualified to tell this tale. She tells if from the perspective of tow young real-life cousin whales in Granny’s Clan. Illustrator, Ann Jones lives on the shores of Orcas Island, Washington, and also knows the whales well. Working with pastels in vibrant color, she was careful to show the whales with unique fins and color patches so that they are individually identifiable.
— Nashville News – March 13, 2013 (September 2012)