Grayson by Lynne Cox

Grayson has been on my wishlist and to-be-read pile for months now. For some reason, I didn’t get around to it until tonight. All I can say is, what was I waiting for?!

Lynn Cox weaves a captivating and poetic tale of the brief but life-altering bond between herself and a baby gray whale. While swimming off the California coast she discovers the infant, who has been separated from his mother, and spends a magical morning with him while trying to lead him to his mother. If you don’t believe in interspecies communication, this story will change your mind. Though the encounter lasts only a few hours, the connection between Grayson and the then-seventeen year old Cox is astonishing; though they don’t speak the same language, Grayson and Cox forge a deep bond that transcends any language.

The story is magical, but Cox’s lyrical prose paints a picture of a world most people never see. Her poetic descriptions of the ocean and the lives that fill it remind us that the natural world is full of surprises and magic that most people never take the time to see.

The life lessons from this fable are weaved into the story in an intricate pattern. “Wait as long a you need to.  The waiting is as important as the doing….it’s the written words, what is said, what is left unsaid, the space between the thoughts on the page, that makes the story, and it’s the space between the notes, the intervals between fast and slow, that makes the music.  It’s the love of being together, the spacing, the tension of being apart that brings you back together”.  Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.

Grayson was originally written as a memoir for adults.  However, teachers began using the book in the classroom and sending their students thoughts and projects to Lynn Cox.  She and the publisher (Harcourt) realized that young people too could connect to the journey of Grayson and Lynn Cox.  I would love to use this as a read aloud in my classroom.  A story about migration and the connection between humans and nature, a memoir that relates to our monarch study- this would fit our class perfectly.  I could imagine using it at almost any grade level, as children and adults can get their own meaning from the story.  In fact, it would also hold up to multiple readings, with readers learning more each time they read it.