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Swimming Home, 2015, released by Tilbury House.

Illustrated by Rebekah Raye, the book is described as an "epic animal migration story in the tradition of March of the Penguins" that "follows a school of fish (river herring, or alewives) on a journey of hundreds of miles, escaping porpoises, seals, eagles, and herons. Swimming Home is also the moving story of a boy and his father who see the fish stopped just short of their goal by a new road, and transport them across the last hundred feet."

Where to buy Swimming Home online: AmazonPowell's Books


"Susan Shetterly writes with an elegance of expression that takes my breath away. Swimming Home is a simple, enlightening story, told with suspenseful pacing and a deep sympathy for the natural world. I can't wait to read this to a child in my life." - Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys, Any Bitter Thing, and Ernie's Ark

"Susan Hand Shetterly infuses this appealing story with the sensitivity to the natural world that defines all her work." - Frank Graham Jr., Audubon Magazine contributing editor and author of Since Silent Spring

"You will be swept away by this dramatic story of alewives enduring their perilous annual journey and a boy and his father who help them along the way." - Jennifer O Connell, author/illustrator of The Eye of the Whale

Swimming Home by Susan Hand Shetterly is a book about river herring or alewives as they are called on the East Coast. This book follows the alewives as they face many dangers during their journey for hundreds of miles from salt water to a fresh water spawning ground.


Along the way, they manage to dodge seals, porpoises, eagles, and herons. Since a new road had been put into place and leaving a culvert that the fish could not swim through, the alewives' biggest challenge was actually getting to their final spawning pond. Luckily, a boy and his father come to the rescue. You will want to read more to find out what happens.

This book would be ideal for elementary students to read while researching North Atlantic fish. In addition to the beautiful illustrations, the book contains an author's note at the end of the book. Here it delves into more scientific explanations of why these alewife herrings go from saltwater to freshwater, and the actual patterns these alewives take on their specific journeys. A student friendly description of how such anadromous fish are able to adapt to their changing marine environment is expertly given. Possible explanations of why these alewives are plunging in numbers and how this has an effect on other types of deep sea fish is provided. Information about recent alewife restoration projects underway in Maine are mentioned. This can be helpful to other coastal communities facing these same problems and remediation efforts in removing dams and obstructions as well as making new fish ladders to aid the alewives' migration. (Review posted on 1/6/2015) - Lori Cirucci, Science Teacher, in NSTA Recommends

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