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The tale of the whale
2022
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Publishers Weekly Review
Originally published in Great Britain, this lesson-oriented fantasy debut follows the kinship between a dark-haired, brown-skinned child and an expressive humpback whale, who encounter each other "where land becomes sky/ and sky becomes sea." Gently undulating rhymes by Swann describe the duo cavorting with marine life, observing a shipwreck, and heading across a stunningly textured "ocean in motion" and then into tragedy: when the whale swallows up "the soup of the ocean" (a mass of discarded plastic and other refuse that distresses many creatures, including a turtle, a seagull, and a seal) the protagonist slowly realizes that beach cleanups are imperative. Padmacandra offers textural spreads in teals and peaches that conjure both the magic and human-created mess of the deep in this empathic first-person apologue. Ages 4--8. (Feb.)
School Library Journal Review
K-Gr 2--A brown-skinned girl accepts a whale's invitation for an ocean tour. What starts as a delightful romp through the joys of the ocean, with much laughter and smiling--"We danced with the dolphins that waltzed through the sea"--turns dark as the whale shows the girl all the plastic he ingests while eating and how plastic is harming other ocean dwellers. Galvanized, she promises to tell everyone of the "plastic soup sea" and asks that readers help change this. The lyrical rhyming text deftly takes the story's message from joy to sadness to action. The illustrations are filled with texture and movement indicative of the sea, and the use of inclusive text placement with variety in the spreads echoes that feeling of movement. Padmacandra easily depicts the emotions of the whale and the girl with simple yet effective changes to posture and expressions. There are a few subtle hints depicting that all is not well in the ocean with plastic bottles hidden amongst the ocean's flora; this later becomes a visual focal point of the tale as readers see a plastic-filled ocean and its denizens in grave danger. VERDICT With a compelling message that children will easily understand, this call to action lacks only back matter with specific steps for aiding in the cleanup. Purchase as needed.--Catherine Callegari
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