Songs in the Silence

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9780027677300: Songs in the Silence

Hallie, a troubled eleven-year-old girl, finds solace from her grief and guilt over her younger brother's accident when she comes to the aid of two whales stranded in Portland Harbor.

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 4-6-Hallie, 11, lives on an island off the coast of Maine. She feels terrible every time she thinks of her shocked inaction when her younger brother was accidentally burned. Borrowing a dinghy, she gets lost in a fog as thick as her malaise, almost drowns, and is rescued by a pilot whale. Further mental contacts with Melae are so special that Hallie, cut off from her parents by their intense concentration on their son, tells no one, deriving comfort and spiritual warmth from "her" whale's insights and songs. When the animal requests her aid in preventing well-meant human interference in the care of Globo, an injured comrade, the girl must cope with her helplessness in the face of adult bureaucracy, just as she must when barred from the hospital by age-admittance rules. At last, in a desperate, risky physical effort, she is instrumental in saving Globo, though it means the end of her mystical relationship with Melae. However, her experiences have freed her, and her guilt vanishes as she determinedly sneaks into the pediatric ward to visit her brother. While the messages regarding guilt, adult misunderstanding, the breakdown of a family under stress, and the lack of communication occasionally intrude upon the flow of the plot, some of the concepts are new and refreshing. All readers, like Hallie, can do with a wise and joyous friend, particularly when those upon whom they usually depend become abruptly distant.
Patricia Manning, Eastchester Public Library, NY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Her little brother Josh has been burned in an accident, and Hallie is deeply troubled. She misses her parents, mostly at the hospital with Josh; she feels excluded (she's not quite 12, so can't join them) and suffers guilt because, frozen with horror, she watched while others rushed to Josh's aid. She's sure that if she can be with Josh it will help him--a sound hope since the two, who live on a small Maine island, are unusually close. Grieving, Hallie goes out in a neighbor's dinghy (she is implausibly inept at rowing), nearly drowns, but is saved by a whale, Melae, whose singing she somehow understands. Melae too is trying to save one of her kind, the ailing Globo, an effort hampered by curious people flocking to the scene and by well- meaning experts and Coast Guard personnel who try to separate the whales in the mistaken belief that Globo will surely ground himself but that Melae, on her own, will be safe. Though the fantasy is a bit contrived, Melae (a sort of consoling, otherworldly godmother) is intriguing and the parallels nicely reinforce the theme; Hallie's ultimate success in helping Globo find his way back to Melae and in getting together with Josh make a satisfying conclusion. A strong sense of place, deftly drawn characters, and an undercurrent of tenderness to humans and cetacean add up to a fine second novel by the author of Alice Dodd and the Spirit of Truth (1993). (Fiction. 9-12) -- Copyright 1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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