Review Blog

Dec 09 2014

Whale in the Bath by Kylie Westaway

cover image

Ill. by Tom Jellett. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743318584
(Age: Pre-School - Yr 2) It's bath time for Bruno, but he has a problem - there is a whale in his bath. And it's using his bubble bath, even though it doesn't like the smell and would prefer something more krill-like. Poor Bruno. He's trying to do what he's been told but when he seeks help his sister Ally doesn't believe him and accuses him of telling lies. Just because there was a bear under Bruno's bed and a walrus in the backyard she tells him, "You're always making things up." His mum doesn't believe him either and sends him back upstairs but the whale is still there . . . scrubbing and rubbing and taking its time. It's tricky to wash yourself all over quickly when you're as big as a whale and the bathtub is as small as a bucket! So Bruno goes to see his scientific brother Pete but Pete wasn't interested. "A whale can't fit in the bath," he said. Even a baby whale would be too big."
So back to the bathroom Bruno goes to plead his case but the whale still isn't finished - and then Dad comes home and orders Bruno to stop mucking around and have his bath. But the whale won't budge, perhaps not for an hour or even four - it's enjoying the hot water and the soap, neither of which it can get in the ocean. But it does have an idea . . .
This is the most delightful story of imagination and fun, that has a cute twist in the end that enables the reader to read Bruno's mind and say "I told you so!' Tom Jellett has provided some superb illustrations that make this romp all the better. Young listeners will have fun thinking about how the whale might have got into the tub and how it will get out! There's also scope for following it up with a discussion about why Bruno's family didn't believe him and perhaps sharing The Boy who Cried Wolf. From a visual imagery perspective there is opportunity to explore the layout and how certain words have been emphasised as well as how Jellett has managed to suggest the enormity of the whale without trying to fit it into the page. And then there is a mathematical perspective of comparing sizes - perhaps even sharing Bill Martin Jr's poem, What is Big?
This one is going in my school box as my next read-aloud to students! It will set up the learning for the whole day.
Barbara Braxton

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