The Heart of a Whale

Philomel. Jan. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984836274.
PreS-Gr 1–As Whale traverses the ocean, his song provides an uplifting background for all who hear it. From baby seahorses to urchins to flowers, Whale’s song of hope and wonder permeates the vast expanses of the sea. Despite the joy he brings to others, however, Whale’s heart remains empty. Releasing a baleful sigh into the void, another friend is summoned to be for the whale what that whale has been to everyone else. Everyone gets lonely sometimes, and it is especially hard to recognize an empty heart behind a facade of warmth. Told from the perspective of a solitary whale, this story emphasizes the importance of friendship and seeking support and kindness, particularly when life seems bleak. Lyrical, poetic language peppers richly beautiful watercolor illustrations throughout this deeply emotional story. Each illustration is expertly balanced not only with the text but also beside the adjacent pages in the book. Though no humans are mentioned in the story, palpable sensations emerge from every image, reminding readers of the many layers of feelings humans experience.
VERDICT This visually stunning story is as beautiful to see as it is to read; young readers will especially appreciate its message of friendship and encouragement as they begin to investigate their own big feelings.

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