“We took the orca from the sea and put it in the sky”

Illustrated by Shaun Tan

Tales from the Inner City

“We promised to set things right. But so many years have passed now, and … we just don’t know how to get it down”

“We took the orca from the sea and put it in the sky” is a short story from Tales from the Inner City. In a single paragraph, it describes a spectacular feat accomplished for human pleasure. Sadly, the surreal installation was done without consideration of consequences—tearing the baby orca from its mother—and the mother’s cry has not gone away since. It “kept us awake all night and broke our hearts.”

This short story illustrates human hubris and carelessness in dealings with nature that comes from the anthropocentric worldview of seeing everything as existing for human use or pleasure. Some environmental consequences cannot be undone.

This story can be productively paired with “Bears with lawyers,” “We tell each other the same story” and others.

©2021 ClimateLit (Marek Oziewicz)

Other reviews from Tales from the Inner City can be found here.

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic, 2018

Pages: 224

ISBN: 978-1338298406

Audience: Questers (8-13), Rebels (14-older)

Format: Short Stories

Topics: Animal Cruelty, Animals, Anthropocentrism, Biodiversity Loss, Biosphere, Concept Nature, Conservation, Ecological Civilization, Green Living, Human Expansionism, Human Impact, Kinship with Animals, Nature, Nearby Nature, Pollution, Rewilding, Solutions