This is a (Puffin) kid's book that I read years ago. Johnny, an orphan living with an unsympathetic aunt, stows away on a hover cruiser that then sinks in mid-Pacific; he is saved by Dolphins taking him to an island where Professor Kazan (brilliantly characterised as "he had a kindly but rather distant expression, as if he wanted to be friends with everyone, yet preferred to be left with his own thoughts") is researching into Dolphin language.
This is a classic boy's adventure story (the ease with which the boy is disencumbered of parents and indeed any family at all is so typical, think Swallows and Amazons and hundreds of orphan sagas) that reminded me strongly of the Adventure stories of Willard Price. There is a lot of fact about coral reefs and the Pacific Ocean drip-fed in through the medium of talking about Johnny's swimming trips with his mate Mick. At the same time, Clarke builds the story around science that, at the time of writing (1962) looked promising: the hovercraft had just been invented and Behaviorism reigned supreme in Psychology from which Clarke mined details of computer-run education via learning programs and animal control using electric shocks to either the pain or pleasure centres of the brain.
And at the end, of course, Johnny has to be a hero in the aftermath of the hurricane, when the Professor is dying and there is a race against the clock to get help with the aid of those friendly dolphins.
Beautifully written: July 2016, 156 pages
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57