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The Lost Whale

The Lost Whale

The Lost Whale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Whale

Hannah Gold

Levi Pinfold

HarperCollins, 2022

320pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780008412944

Rio is lost – both physically and emotionally.  

He has been sent from London to Los Angeles to stay with his grandmother while his mother is in hospital trying to recover from her chronic mental illness. But the tiny, quiet seaside town of Ocean Grove is so different from busy London; and so is his grandmother’s house – so much bigger than their tiny city flat, especially when he is to sleep in his mother’s childhood bedroom.

As if that weren’t enough, not only does he scarcely know his grandmother who is all shiny jumpsuits, sharp elbows and hard angles and whose hugs are not the deep, warm snuggly type he is used to, but he believes that if he had just tried harder and done more he could have prevented his mother’s downward slide into the psychiatric hospital.  At first,  Rio shuts everyone and everything out, unable to do anything but think about his mother and fears for her safety if he is not there.  After all, he’s been her carer for most of his 11 years. He is consumed by guilt if he relaxes or has fun, or even feels at peace. He is fixated of fixing here, despite being so far away, and when he discovers her childhood sketches of a grey whale named White Beak he hatches a plan that will surely save her, one made even more possible when he at last makes a friend in Marina who is passionate about the whales that migrate past Ocean Beach each year and whose dad happens to own a whale-watching business.  

After his own incredible encounter with White Beak, Rio is even more determined but then the reports of her being sighted as she journey s south to the lagoons of Mexico stop. Rio is determined to find her  because White Beak and his mother become one and the same person in his mind, and he and Marina hatch an audacious plan…

As with Gold’s debut novel, The Last Bear  this is a story  that stays in the mind long after the final page has been turned, and as with that story, it is a journey of discovery for the child as much as the focus animal. Rio is so used to being the grown-up, the responsible one, that he has to learn to forge relationships with his grandmother, Marina and her father and to be able to trust others to have his mother’s interests at heart, accepting that he can’t fix everything by himself. But the parallel story about the life and times of the world’s whales, whatever species, and the perils they face as their habitat is threatened is equally important.  It could easily have been set in coastal New South Wales about the humpback highway.  

This is one for independent readers who are seeking a well-written story that has substance and authenticity, but it would also make an excellent class read-aloud.  

 

The Voyage of Whale and Calf

The Voyage of Whale and Calf

The Voyage of Whale and Calf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Voyage of Whale and Calf

Vanessa Pirotta

Samantha Metcalfe

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781486315109

In the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef,  Whale prepares to give birth to her first baby.  In the 12 months since she first got pregnant, she’s swum thousands of kilometres from the freezing waters of Antarctica – a return journey she will make when Calf is big enough.  The baby is born tail first, weighing as much as a small car, tiny compared to its mum who is as big as a bus but ginormous compared to a human baby.

This is just the start of a remarkable annual migration as as the Antarctic winter starts to lose its grip, both mother and baby head south to the rich feeding grounds of the Southern Ocean.

Written by a wildlife scientist with particular expertise in collecting whale snot, this is an intriguing tale of where and why these magnificent creatures are going as they enchant us with their majestic antics of breaching and tail-slapping as they move up and down the Humpback Highways of both our east and west coasts.

Humpback Highways

Humpback Highways

Brought back from the brink of extinction after relentless unchecked whaling, this is an intriguing introduction to these creatures that will inspire young readers to want to know more  so that they become more than just seasonal tourist attractions. Both the information pages and the extensive teaching notes offer the opportunity to investigate further, both the life and life cycle of the humpback but also the other marine creatures it shares those icy waters with.  Because it is the annual migration of the whales that particularly puts them in our spotlight, there is also scope to investigate where, why and how other creatures migrate. particularly such great distances or even to find out why a person would devote their professional life to investigating whale snot!

As usual, CSIRO Publishing have given us another superb read, one that asks more questions than it answers, and to the curious mind of the child, that is a perfect book!

 

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback

Beryl Young

Sakika Kikuchi

Greystone Books, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781771645737 

As the “humpback highway” gathers momentum and more and more of our young readers have the privilege of seeing these majestic creatures, this is a timely release of the story of a humpback whale and her calf and how they bond and learn, grow and change and how that process parallels the development of the child. Both baby and calf have mothers who keep them safe and nurture them, while other natural-instinct behaviours also mirror each other such as blowing bubbles and blowing a plume, shouting and singing and frolicking in water.

Beautifully illustrated, this is a charming story of two not normally viewed together, answering the child’s questions as well as offering a new wondrous perspective of these magnificent mammals.