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Avis Dolphin

Written by Frieda Wishinsky

Illustrated by Willow Dawson

  • 128 Pages
  • 9781554984909
  • from 9 to 12
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Comics & Graphic Novels
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / Europe



Publication Date March 25, 2015

Avis Dolphin doesn’t want to leave Canada and sail to England on the Lusitania. War is raging in Europe, and the Germans threaten to sink the ship. Avis is lonely and afraid until she meets a kindly professor whose stories of a magical island help her face an uncertain future.

When the Lusitania is attacked, Avis must draw on all her newfound strength to cope with the confusion, terror and despair. How can she survive the sudden devastation of the ship? Will the people she cares about, especially the professor, live through the horror and danger?

The immediacy of Frieda Wishinsky’s voice will engage readers in this thrilling story based on real events. They will identify with Avis and Professor Holbourn as they grapple with a stubborn captain, encounter German stowaways and contend with the feud between Avis’s two cabin mates. Set against a background of growing anxiety, readers will be glued to the dramatic unfolding events and the surprising fate of the people they have come to know.

Willow Dawson’s art depicts the stories the professor tells Avis in enchanting graphic-novel form. They provide a riveting magical element to the story, creating a story-within-a-story.

Like Avis, readers will fall in love with Foula and will dream of the island long after they have reached the last page of this exciting story.


Frieda Wishinsky
Frieda Wishinsky is an award-winning author and teacher with a Master of Science in special education. Her first picture book, Ooonga Boonga, was voted "Pick of the List" by American booksellers, and Each One Special was nominated for a Governor General's Award. She has written more than forty trade and educational books, and many of them have been translated into French, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Korean, Spanish, and Catalan. Frieda lives with her family in Toronto.

Willow Dawson
Award winning author and illustrator Willow Dawson’s books include Ghost Limb, Hyena in Petticoats, The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea with Helaine Becker, Lila and Ecco’s Do-It-Yourself Comics Club, No Girls Allowed with Susan Hughes, and the upcoming The Wolf-Birds. Her books have been supported by the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. Willow Dawson also teaches Creating Comics and Graphic Novels at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She lives in Toronto.


"Wishinsky incorporates a wealth of contextual information into the story." Publishers Weekly

"Moving and inventive . . . a vivid and relatable account of a not-so-distant tragedy." Quill & Quire

"This child’s view of the event with eye-catching illustrations is an accessible take on the historic event." Booklist

"Together, Frieda Wishinsky and Willow Dawson tell an incredible story of unlikely friendship, travelling during wartime, and, most importantly, hope." CM Magazine

"Avis’s unforgettable journey of friendship, courage, tragedy, and hope will captivate and resonate with readers." National Reading Campaign

"Readers will be swept up in Avis’s excitement about the boat mechanics, gourmet food, and people-watching." School Library Journal