Welcome to Paperback Throwback. Each week, I highlight a book from my ever-growing collection of older paperbacks, ‘90s and prior. Come check out everything from Zebra’s line of horror to Scholastic’s preteen Apple Paperbacks, and everything in between— you’ll know them by their stylishly cheesy covers, flashy plots, and cheap prices.
Join me on this stroll down Literary Memory Lane. Stops include Sweet Valley High, Fear Street, and anywhere else mass market paperbacks may be lurking.
This week’s throwback is a whale of a time … or a dolphin of a time. Something like that.
Jody loves dolphins. So when her parents set off on a trip across the globe to study the animal, Jody jumps at the chance to join them aboard the Dolphin Dreamer. However, not everything goes according to plan and soon the water starts looking awfully choppy.
So I’m cheating a little bit with the selection this week. Technically this book was released in 2000, but since it’s barely over my self-imposed line, I’m counting it.
This book is the first in the Dolphin Diaries series published by Scholastic. The U.S. and U.K. versions feature different authors on their covers, with Ben M. Baglio listed for the former and Lucy Daniels for the latter. However, the series was written by neither. Though Baglio is indeed a real person, he provided outlines for each book with ghostwriters filling in the details. Daniels is purely a pseudonym.
With that, this first book is pretty strong. The plot moves quickly and the yacht setting provides for plenty of action. There are quite a few secondary characters roaming around, so Jody has plenty of people to shout dolphin facts at. And there are a ton of these facts sprinkled throughout. However, they’re actually woven into the plot rather than dumped at awkward moments. Jody’s just ridiculously excited to be talking about dolphins that it makes sense when she’s showing off her knowledge.
But the best part of this book? Brittany, the Captain’s teenage daughter, suddenly turn up on deck, ready to sail off to the Bahamas. Spoiled and melodramatic, she’s the major tension point. Mostly she huffs through scenes, lamenting boat life. While it’s easy to write her off as annoying, she’s also a cold-blooded attempted murderer. In one bizarre scene, after Jody does nothing besides save her life, Brittany punches her. Jody grabs at her to regain balance, but Brittany’s “face blazed red” and she pushes her overboard. A totally rational reaction to someone saving your life.
Don’t worry. Jody lives. But dolphin tracking and attempted murder make for a few wild moments.
Title: Into the Blue
Series: Dolphin Diaries #1
Author: Ben M. Baglio
Publication Date: 2000
Classification: Middle Grade