London, Bloomsbury, 2007, 245p
I struggle to find junior fiction texts that I like. I don't really like stories about animals or "funny" books, as my students call them. And I know I am trying to engage with what my students want to read, but if I can't get through it, there isn't much point in trying.
Saving Finnegan is different, though. It is more confidently written than many books for kids about animals, and it has an actual plot, whereas many animal stories are predictable and boring.
Grindley's book is the story of Holly, who finds a fin whale washed up on the beach of her island one day. The fin whale, named Finnegan, is ill, and Holly protests for her community to help save the poor animal.
The main theme here is death. Grindley hints at it all the way through - first Finnegan's arrival, then the threat of foxes to the hens, as well as Holly's aged grandmother. But those around Holly support her through the trial of acceptance; and I feel the novel would help a young reader in the same way.
This is an enjoyable, optimistic story. Holly represents hope - she is always fighting to help those around her, especially the fin whale.