Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Big Blue Whale

By Nicola Davies
Illustrated by Nick Maland
Candlewick Press
Ages 5+

Magical and captivating aren't words that spring to mind when one thinks of a book loaded with facts and information. Yet, that is how one would describe this book on blue whales. The soft, gentle illustrations and nearly poetic prose set this book apart. The large crosshatching colored pen and ink illustrations and blue-green pages have a soothing, calming effect. The book left me with the feeling that I had actually met one of these big creatures, and that I'd made a friend!

Size is described in relative terms - we begin by learning that the blue whale is big, bigger than a giraffe, an elephant or a dinosaur, with an eye as big as a teacup and ears as small as the end of a pencil.
Things are put in perspective with the last double-page spread showing that in the vastness of the green seas even a blue whale is small - and hard to find.

The blue whale is the biggest creature that has ever lived on earth; a protected species of which fewer than ten thousand remain. You could sail the oceans for an entire year and never see a single one! When I read aloud to the four-year old, there were wonderful discoveries on each rereading and new things to marvel about these fascinating elusive creatures.

- The blue whale mostly swims alone and yet it may not be as lonely as it seems. The low loud hum it makes can travel thousands of miles through the seas to reach other blue whales.

- The blue whales swim from the poles to the equator for the winter. But when it’s winter at the South Pole, it is summer at the North Pole. So the whales from the North Pole never meet those from the South Pole.

- The blue whale has tiny holes for ears - sticking-out ears would get in the way when the whale is swimming.

How the blue whale manages to eat truckloads of krill without any teeth - another interesting bit that the resident four-year old loves to demonstrate.

There was also relief that whales don't eat people - the two young people peering into the whale's mouth were safe!

The book could spark off discussions about the environment and wildlife conservation. It starts off with an introductory note about the dwindling numbers of blue whales and tells us that the situation is improving... very, very slowly, now that hunting them is banned. The author's note on the last page says "Now there is so much man-made noise in the ocean that the blue whales are having trouble hearing one another".

This is a great addition to any library and one that will be cherished for a long time.

A lovely way to learn about migration patterns, breathing, birth, food and communication. I wish I'd had textbooks like these back in school!

‘Big Blue Whale’ is a Read and Wonder book from Candlewick Press, a series about emperor penguins, turtles, chameleons, caterpillars, bats, pandas, wolves, elephants, tigers and other such fascinating creatures. One of them -‘I Love Guinea Pigs’ - is by none other than Dick-King Smith and has been illustrated by Anita Jeram of ‘Guess How much I Love You’ fame.

[Image source]


sandhya said...

Lovely review, Arundhati. I could almost see the 4-yr-old taking it all in.

Welcome to the ST family.

Choxbox said...

Welcome to ST Arundhati!

We have this book too, so appreciate the review fully!

Choxbox said...

Oha nd our copy also has a CD - which is awesome too.

Incidentally we read a story by Kipling yesterday about called 'How Whales Stopped Eating People' :)

Arundhati said...

Thanks Sandhya, Chox. I've enjoyed the posts on ST, and we've had some wonderful reading experiences thanks to the reviews. Feels great to now share the love for books here

Sheela said...

Welcome to ST, Arundati! Thanks for a wonderful non-fiction book review - am looking forward to more such.

Praba Ram said...

Welcome to ST! You've started off with a great BANG! :)

I recently discovered these "Read and Wonder" books from Candlewick. Been meaning to share here.Good you've pointed out. Rarely you find good read-alouds in NF. These are perfect for preschoolers. Have one titled "Chameleons are Cool" by Martin Jenkins - fun facts written in a humorous style paired with cartoon-ish but colorful illustrations.

I can't wait to check the Big Blue Whale out! Thank you for an awesome nonfiction recommendation.


Arundhati said...

Thanks for the kind words, Praba and Sheela

utbtkids said...

Welcome to ST Arundhati. There is a dearth of non fiction books that will appeal to children. You have introduced us to such a gem. Will look out for this book.

Arundhati said...

Thank you, utbt

N from the Learning Ark said...

Choxbox, I'll be ordering this book today. It looks fantastic. And thank you for your comment on my blog.

Choxbox said...

Thanks N!

I love your blog, and wish wish wish we had a school like yours in our city. Sigh.

I think you will totally love this book, especially given Little N's interests.

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