Friday, 8 February 2013

Whale by David Lucas

The cover of Whale looks more like album art than a fantastical children's book to me. This is a good thing. I love the vast expanse of blues and the lower case title, and how it looks like it could have been published in the 70's but is actually from 2006. Some of you will be old friends with David Lucas' books, but for any newbies this one's for you.

Our copy of Whale was a third birthday present for E from one of my sisters. It's now standard mealtime reading (so that's at least three times a day). He's fixated on the whale's smile and always remarks how the whale looks happy. Since reading Whale, E has learned about dolphins and fishmongers and almost grasped the meaning of the word 'innumerable'.

The story is a great tale about a town in deep trouble after the whale is washed ashore and flattens all the buildings in one go. It's a story of how the whale and the sea creatures save the day with a little help from Joe, the townsfolk, an owl, the wind, the sun, the moon and the innumerable stars.

Joe awakens one morning when something crashes into his house and it knocks him out of bed. He and his Grandma May escape their house through the chimney only to discover that the entire town, including the fishmonger and the mayor, are stranded atop the whale.  The whale is contrite but cannot help himself as he's stuck ashore. After much consultation from the owl and the elements the suggestion comes back that the townsfolk should sing.  Joe gets things started and soon everyone joins in, including the whale.  It's a rain song and before long they're all more than a little surprised to find the town flooded and the whale floating at sea. The whale gets to work putting things right and drinks as much of the sea water as he can.  Then he starts to sing and like a call to arms all the wonderful wild creatures come forth from the sea and rebuild the town in a dazzle of shells, pebbles and pearls. The town is saved, the whale is saved and Joe has made a new friend.

The narrative is uncomplicated but the added detail gives this book an edge over standard early reading picture books.  It's a good transition book for introducing your young reader to more text.  The illustrations are joyous and it's a treat to tread the pages of Lucas' distinct designs, patterns and illustrations. In fact, the illustrations alone make this book a worthwhile read.  To find out more about David Lucas and his other books, projects and illustrations you can visit:, Booktrust and this post from Playing By the Book.


1 comment:

  1. I really love David Lucas' books, with Halibut Jackson probably my favourite, though I also really really love the Robot and the Bluebird. Whale is another favourite - I love the shell bedecked town at the end of the story.