Wednesday, 22 January 2014

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin. E. Stead

Happy belated new year readers! It's been a busy time at our house with grandparents visiting from North Carolina, a side project of mine that just launched and master E's 4th birthday which seems to have come out of blue this year. Though it's been a time for reading lots of old favorites, there is one new title in the basket that we've both kind of fallen in love with: If You Want to See a Whale.

The narrative is much like a thought, a poem or a conversation depending on how you read it.  All three approaches work well! The story is driven by a little boy with just a hound and a little grey bird for company as he searches for a glimpse of a whale. Like a young child retelling something they've learned firsthand, he speaks directly to the reader as he dispenses his wisdom. Above all you must not get distracted if you want to see a whale.  Things that might divert your attention such as a pirate ship, a field of roses or a pelican must all be ignored. You must wait, quiet and alert, and you might, you just might see a whale.

The illustrations are drawn with a deft hand and the blues and greens of the sea are endlessly dreamy against the bright yellows. Without being didactic, the story is a lesson in perception and patience. E is really big on whales at the moment so this one went down a treat at our house. His interest in the subject matter, coupled with the incredible illustrations, opened the door for a revealing bit of quiet conversation... just as a good book should.

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