Winter, named for the season of her rescue, was found entangled in a crab trap ten miles off Cape Canaveral, near death. After losing her tail, Winter was not expected to survive. But with the rehabilitation efforts of the CMA, she relearned how to swim and received a prosthetic tail.
Craig Hatkoff, who co-authored the book with his daughters Juliana, 14, and Isabella, 11, was present for the webcast. “This is an amazing story of an animal with resilience who overcomes adversity,” he said. “Out of tragedy and trauma is hope and courage.”
The Hatkoffs have traveled to Europe and Africa, and now Clearwater, researching their true-life stories of animals overcoming adversity. “[Readers] can use these stories as a tool to discuss these issues that are not always the easiest thing to talk about,” says Hatkoff. For instance, Winter’s Tail talks about disabilities in a way children can easily understand. Isabella and Juliana couldn’t be at the CMA because they were in school, but Isabella sent a recorded message to the children watching. “Remember, if Winter can, you can,” she said.
Winter’s Tail inspired two children with disabilities, Brandon and McKenna, who discussed their experiences on the webcast. McKenna, 10 ½, was embarrassed to wear her hearing aid. After hearing Winter’s story, she shows it off proudly. Brandon, 12 ½, is missing a leg. “[Winter] has shown me it’s not what you are, it’s who you are,” says Brandon. “Winter has inspired me to live my life with no limitations, and that I have no boundaries.”
Isabella has also been inspired by Winter. On a recent visit to the CMA, she told her father she wants to be a dolphin trainer when she grows up. “I have a feeling I’ll be back in Clearwater quite a bit,” joked Hatkoff.
Scholastic Books is holding a “Meet Winter Essay Contest.” Students must write a 200 word essay discussing who their favorite animal hero is and why. The winner will be flown to Clearwater to meet Winter. Ten runners-up will receive the Nintendo DS interactive story book based on Winter’s Tail.
For more information on Winter's Tail, visit www.winterstail.com. To view the webcast, click here. For more information on the essay contest, go to http://www.scholastic.com/winterstail/.