Review Blog

Mar 10 2009

This morning I met a whale by Michael Morpurgo

cover image

Walker Books, 2008. ISBN 9781406306460
(Ages 8+) A plea for world sanity is startlingly presented by Morpurgo, aimed squarely at children, as he describes what the whale says to a child he meets on the Thames early one morning. Younger readers will accept the whale's speaking with aplomb, readily taking its words to heart. The boy, Michael, walking along the Thames, bird watching, sees a whale. It seems to be looking directly at him, so he goes further down to the shoreline to view the animal more closely. The whale speaks to him of the horrors around the world, pollution, war, tearing down of rainforests, and impels the boy to do something abut it.
When he writes all this down, in the second part of the book, his teacher asks him to read his story to the class, and then when he tells them that it is all true, they deride him for lying. But, later in the day, news comes that the whale is stranded in the Thames and the boy rushed to help. His affinity with the whale and the dying of the mammal while people are trying to help it convinces his class that he is telling the truth.
As with many of Morpurg's stories, what may seem on first reading, a strange unbelievable tale, is on rereading and contemplation, a multi faceted, well written fable for our times. He endows animals and children with the sort of fibre missing amongst adults, and so encourages children to see the world in a different way. For thoughtful readers and classes where world issues are discussed, this book will be read and reread.
Fran Knight

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