Based on an actual event, this moving story tells how a young Chukchi girl named Pipaluk saves the lives of thousands of beluga whales trapped in a channel with ice closing in around them in the Russian Arctic. When Pipa and her father discover the whales, their entire village comes together in a valiant effort to rescue the creatures. Finally, an ice-breaker arrives, cutting an opening to the sea for the whales. But the engine noise frightens the creatures, and it takes a clever plan of Pipa's to lure the whales to open water. At the end of the book, an author's note describes the real-life event that inspired this beautiful story.