A Whale of a Good Read

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A Whale of a Good Read

Whale-forward sea stories for younger readers

The beach without books to read is like the sea without whales. Kids and parents alike will love these creative and sweet whale tales this summer.  
 
Surf’s Up by Kwame Alexander
Alexander introduces preschoolers to Melville’s Moby Dick via two swimsuit-wearing frog friends who love to surf. One friend thinks “books are boring” while the other thinks they are “fascinating, especially this one” about a man looking for a whale. Illustrations rich with color bring the fantastical story to life with frogs rolling over the pages, each dueling with the White Whale. (For another abridged introduction to Moby Dick, check out Moby Dick: Chasing the Great White Whale by Eric Kimmel.) 
 
Sea Stories: A Classic Illustrated Edition compiled by Cooper Evans
If the tale of the White Whale whets the appetite of sea-loving young readers, then this illustrated edition of classic sea stories, poems, songs and myths will have them aching for more. Excerpts from Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Where Go the Boats,” Bob Dylan’s “When the Ship Comes,” and many more are presented alongside vintage illustrations. 

Whale Snow by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Amiqqaq, a young Inupiaq boy, learns how important the bowhead whale is to his family, his culture, and the tradition of the ‘spirit-of-the-whale.’ To the Inuit peoples of northern Alaska, the bowhead whale provides months of meat to eat, valuable oil to heat and light their homes, and sturdy bones to build shelter, plus a strong, abiding sense of community and tradition. 
 
The Boy and the Whale by Mordicai Gerstein
Abelardo lives up to his name, which means “noble and strong,” when he frees a humpback whale from his father’s fishing net.  Gerstein watched on online video from the Great Whale Conservancy of a real-life whale rescue that motivated him to create this story about the brave, seemingly impossible things people do to safeguard the planet’s animals.  
 
Whale Trails: Before and Now by Lesa Cline-Ransome
With colorful cartoon-style portrayals of whale watching “now” contrasted with sepia-colored drawings of whaling “then,” we learn how one American family has lived “for the sea” for generations. Endnotes offer helpful definitions of whaling ships and tools as well as how whaling then provided jobs for many early Americans, including for freed and escaped slaves.
 
The Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies
In Davies’ The Storm Whale, we meet Noi who finds a young whale beached on the shore of the isolated island where Noi lives with his dad and six cats. Tn The Storm Whale in Winter, we're reintroduced to Noi who longs to catch a glimpse of the whale he saved. On a stormy night when Noi's father is late returning home from his last fishing trip of the season, Noi gets worried and ventures onto the icy sea to find him and gets lost.  The young whale reappears at just the right time to help his little rescuer. In both these books, the (maybe imaginary?) encounters between boy and whale stand as literary lessons on the importance of the parent-child connection and friendship.

Whale Shines: An Artistic Tale by Fiona Robinson
Talk about a whale of a cute story! Artistic inspiration abounds in this tale of finding your talent in the most unexpected of ways.  Whale believes he is ungraceful and too boring to have any special talents to exhibit in The Hugest Art Show in the Deep & Briny.  Used only as a large floating poster board, Whale says he is “just in advertising.” Read to find out what Whale discovers is his unique talent. Parents will appreciate the art references throughout.