Set in 1968, this story is about a dyslexic girl who braves great risks to befriend captive dolphins. On her 12th birthday, motherless Buddy is entranced by some performing dolphins she sees at a squalid tourist trap near her home in an Everglades fishing village. Considered "dumb" because she can't read properly and constantly gets directions reversed, Buddy feels empathy for the animals her father says are "too dumb" to miss their lost freedom. Against the wishes of her father, but abetted by her crippled and ailing grandfather, Buddy surreptitiously undertakes the 10-mile boat trip as often as she can to see the dolphins, one of whom, Annie, becomes her special friend. Meanwhile, while working on a science project, Buddy teams up with a visiting scientist who not only warns her of the health dangers the dolphins face but also takes her to Miami, where she is diagnosed with dyslexia. For Buddy, knowledge is power: as she learns to overcome her disability, she likewise stands up for herself against her classroom nemesis and acts to save the dolphins. Believable characters, convincingly portrayed relationships, a deeply moving plot and a wealth of intimate details of Everglades life combine to make this book a real winner.