FICTION

A Whale in Paris

PRESLEY, Daniel & . illus. by Erin McGuire. 256p. S. & S./Atheneum. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534419155.
COPY ISBN
Gr 4–6—Twelve-year-old Chantal Duprey and her father live in Nazi-occupied Paris. Since the Germans arrived, Chantal and Papa have kept themselves fed by catching salmon in the River Seine. Though the river is a source of comfort to Chantal, it is also a source of fear and trepidation as her mother was lost to the water only five years ago. One evening while fishing for salmon, Chantal sees a wondrous sight: a whale in the Seine. This miracle raises the spirits of both the Parisian residents and the whale, now named Franklin, for a time. But as Franklin lingers, and the German occupation of Paris becomes more unstable, things begin to sour; the people are starving and the whale begins to look like a viable meal. Meanwhile, the Nazi's are planning to capture Franklin as a gift for Hitler. Chantal must overcome her fear of the water to save Franklin and help save her community. Franklin, his unlikely appearance in Paris, and his anthropomorphic personality invoke an unexpected but delightful air of magic. Chantal is a compelling and compassionate character.
VERDICT This debut novel set in Nazi-occupied Paris will engage and charm young readers. Purchase for large collections.

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