The Heart of a Whale

Image of The Heart of a Whale
Release Date: 
January 28, 2020
Philomel Books
Reviewed by: 

The Heart of a Whale is a winner for a library, beach house, or a bookshelf in a land-locked world.”

The Heart of a Whale is a stunning book of the sea and a feast for the eyes. From the watery-blue endpapers to the aqua marine green in the interior pages, the book submerges the reader in the world under water.

The plot is this: the whale sings a song, the song goes out across the sea, the whale feels lonely, and the whale finds a friend or mate at the end.

The words are poetic and lilting, with comments and art unexplained—the sad urchin, the seahorses riding on jellyfish, the whale weaving a path of starlight.

And then the reader gets it. The story is fantasy, fiction and charm, not to be taken too literally. Do flowers hear an orchestra? Do flowers hear? 

A young child will delight in the art, the whimsy, and the cadence of language. The parent reading the book might find it useful to read at bedtime, to lull the child to sleep, with swirls of blue, pink, and orange, until the child is dreaming along with the turtles in the story.

A non-reader can pore over the watercolor pictures and see something new every time. Every page turn leads to a double-page spread filled with corals of different hues, seaweed, bubbles, flowers, fish, Octopi, a tiny boat, a lighthouse, sunlight, caves, the ocean floor, and near the end, starry skies.

There is plenty of white space here and there to break up the blue, and to provide background for pale black text.

The book is carried by the art, with spare text that a child might memorize and say with every read-along.

The Heart of a Whale is a winner for a library, beach house, or a bookshelf in a land-locked world.