The heart of a whale by Anna Pignataro
Scholastic, 2018. ISBN 9781743817629
(Ages: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Whales. Loneliness. Melbourne author and illustrator, Pignataro has drawn and painted since a young child, culminating in a career of over 40 books, often nominated in prestigious Australian book awards. Her Agatha series, like this book, The heart of a whale, has a layer of poignancy which endears the books to readers.
Whale sings his song so that the whole ocean can hear. His song helps the newly born seahorses go to sleep, his song calms the wriggling octopus and cheers the sad urchin.
But even though his song reaches all the depths of the seas, there is no song to fill his empty heart. The sea creatures hear his sigh and it travels through forgotten seabeds and sleeping turtles to seek out another whale and his wish is granted.
In spare prose, Pigantaro weaves a wonderful tale of shrugging off loneliness as the whale is able to tell of his sorrow and find company.
Despite his ability to bring happiness to all those around him, he has an empty heart and craves company.
This is a beautiful tale to read aloud and discuss with children, promoting the issue of mental health amongst younger people. The story encourages younger readers to talk about their friends and friendships and the way friends support each other.
The watercolour illustrations support the view of the whale in the water. Each page is full of blues and greys, with touches of colour, replicating what can be seen underwater. Younger readers will love recognising the animals and plants they can find on each page and cheer with the whale when he finds a mate at the end. And on the last page are facts designed to further delight the young readers.