Maybe a Whale

Groundwood. Aug. 2023. 36p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781773066646.
Gr 2-5–Experience the glory of the Pacific Northwest and the beautiful illustrations of debut illustrator Smith as a young girl and her mother go whale watching for the first time after the death of her grandfather. As they kayak, camp, roast marshmallows, and watch for whales, the girl feels more and more connected to her grandfather, and while she may not “see” the whales, she can feel them like she feels her grandfather’s love. The prose is quiet and sturdy and moving, but the illustrations in this picture book steal the show. Smith’s depictions of water, of the great outdoors, and of the whales as a sort of constellation of light and emotion are jaw-dropping.
VERDICT This moving meditation on grief is perfect for fans of Carole Lindstrom, Drew Breckmeyer, Michaela Goade, and Grace Lin.

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