BOOKS: The World Beyond The Waves

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1995:

The World Beyond The Waves, by Kate Kempton, illustrated by
Larry Salk. Portunus Publishing Co. (3435 Ocean Park Blvd. #203, Santa Monica,
CA 90405; 1-800-548-3518), 1995; 88 pages. Cloth, $14.95; paper $8.95.
Strange things happen even before
the recently orphaned Sam, a 12-year-old
girl, is swept off the sailboat by storm
waves. A trio of dolphins appears just before
the hurricane, one of them seriously wound-
ed and needing medical attention. Sam’s
aunt and uncle, both marine biologists, are
able to administer an antibiotic, but can do
little else. A tropical bird lands on the life-
lines next to Sam, seeming to communicate
something of importance to the dolphins.
Later, after being washed overboard, Sam
wakes up in a dim, dark place, only to be
greeted by the bird. Almost drowned, Sam
has been rescued by sea creatures and
brought to The World Beyond The Waves, a
sanitarium for sick and injured marine life of
all kinds, all suffering from things humans
have done—some deliberate cruelties, but
mostly careless or unthinking acts.

The bird, Dapper, is her guide,
along with Jacob, the ghost of an ancient
coelacanth, and her injured dolphin friend,
Francis. They enlighten Sam and then let her
go. Back in her world, Sam understands that
her purpose in life is now to aid the
beleagured sea world.
In its theme, The World Beyond
The Waves is much like The Secret Oceans,
reviewed in the November 1994 edition of
ANIMAL PEOPLE. Both are fantasies
aimed at older children and adolescents; in
both books, humans are taught interspecies
compassion by mystical sea creatures. On
the whole, however, The World Beyond The
W a v e s is more passionate, with a stronger
humane message. It invokes sympathy for
even the unloveliest denizens of the sea,
such as the shark and sturgeon. The crew of
The Secret Oceans eats fish, provided by
their dolphin mentors. Sam, on the other
hand, is served only seaweed in The World
Beyond The Waves, an important difference,
since human fish consumption is jeopardizing
the survival of all marine life—not “just” the
fish, but also the dolphins, whales, seals,
sea lions and other creatures whose very lives
depend on having enough fish to eat, and
who endure the brutality of fishermen who
view them as competitors. It must not be
overlooked that those who provide fish for
the world’s markets are the same people
responsible for seal massacres, countless
“accidental” deaths of birds, turtles, and
marine mammals in fishing nets, and even
The World Beyond The Waves can-
not fail to inspire young readers with its mes-
sage of love and hope. One person can make
a difference, Sam is gently told, and she sets
out to prove it.
––Kim Bartlett
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