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The Mystery and History of Killer Whales
Nonfiction Ages 9-12
Pages: 160
Themes: killer whales, captivity, intelligence, emotions, communication
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: 03/Sep/2019
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Orcas are found in every ocean on the planet, but can they survive their relationship with humans?

Orcas Everywhere looks at how humans around the world (Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike) related to orcas in the past, how we relate to them now and what we can do to keep cetacean communities alive and thriving. The book deals with science, philosophy, environmentalism and ethics in a kid-friendly and accessible way. Writer, filmmaker and orca activist Mark Leiren-Young takes us back to when killer whales were considered monsters and examines how humans went from using orcas for target practice to nearly loving them to death. If you know a young person who loves Free Willy or Finding Nemo, they will fall in love with these whales.

Susin Nielsen, award-winning author of No Fixed Address
"Told in an accessible, conversational style, this is a book for children and adults to enjoy. It opened my eyes to so much I didn't know about orcas. It's also a real page-turner. Leiren-Young never condescends to his readers; he tells it like it is, and 'like it is' is not always pretty. But he gives hope for the future and offers up achievable steps we can take to help. This is, quite simply, an important and beautiful book."
Kirkus Reviews
“A fascinating subject related with passion.”
Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada
“An amazingly accessible and fun book that explores our relationship with whales over millennia. The reality of their complex and intelligent behavior should give anyone pause in assuming human superiority.”
“Pages filled with photographs, impassioned narrative, “Orca Bites” (facts), and further research resources make this title one for all libraries.”
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
“A valuable, extensive examination of what we’ve learned about orcas, filling a spot as an up-to-date reference among the many books in publication about this topic. Highly Recommended.”
School Library Connection
“The reader will certainly learn much about these fascinating, intelligent, and beautiful creatures, and hopefully will understand why they need to be protected.”
The Commentary podcast
“A marvelous overview of orcas and their place in history as well a chronicle of their challenges in the past and into the future."
Resource Links
“This informative non-fiction title will encourage a love of killer whales and all things aquatic. Readers will enjoy uncovering the mysteries of whales while proving they are not the monsters humans once thought them to be.”
School Library Journal
“The subject is important and the text is engaging and appealing, with illustrations and helpful sidebars throughout.”
Erich Hoyt, author of Orca: The Whale Called Killer
“This inviting book will be treasured by kids—a fun way to discover orcas and the sea.”
Must Read Literature: K thru YA
“Leiren-Young provides several stories to support his premises and exploration into this species; the stories add high interest level to the reading…Highly recommended for middle school libraries; supports science curriculum, activism and preservation.”


Bank Street College of Education Best Books  | 2019 | Commended
Green Earth Book Award Honor Book  | 2020 | Commended
CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens  | 2020 | Commended
City of Victoria Children's Book Prize  | 2020 | Winner
Red Cedar Book Awards  | 2021 | Short-listed
Information Book Awards  | 2020 | Short-listed