Storm whale by Sarah Brennan

cover image

Ill. by Jane Tanner. Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760293642
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Whales, Environment, Storms, Responsibility, Verse story. When three girls begin their walk into town from their holiday shack, they come across a whale, stranded on the beach. All day long the girls bucket water over the animal, defying the storm and the rain pelting down over their heads. But the whale is still there when they are forced back to the house, and all night long the storm persist, tossing them into their dreams of being out there with the lonely whale. Next morning a different day appears, warm and sunlit, calm and soft. They run onto the beach in their pyjamas, only to see piles of sea weed and debris from the ocean floor, but no whale. Looking out to see they realise that he has been freed by the storm and is now back where he belongs.
This charming story of a whale caught on the beach at high tide and the girls' attempts to free it, will resonate with children as they sympathise with the children's efforts to keep the whale alive. The verse form adds another level of interest as readers will be encouraged to predict the rhyming words, read it in poetic form, and see how the illustrations match the words.
Tanner has created a breathtaking companion to the words, as we can feel the wet and cold driving rain, sympathise with the whale as it seems to watch what the girls are doing, be saddened when the girls are forced back home, and feel with them through the night worrying about the whale left on the beach. The images are full of meaning, drawing the readers to put themselves in the girls' shoes, asking themselves what they would have done. And the words about the whale draw the reader to contemplate the life of a whale, far away in the deep, where it is no longer a fugitive, harried and hunted.
Some readers will want to know more about the whale and why the author has chosen some of the words she has used. A wonderful book to read aloud and share, extolling the majesty of our environment and the part we have to play in keeping it so.
Fran Knight