In one of the more disarming of those seemingly naive, uninflected whoppers from Europe, old Karl decides that he would like to have a look at the sea. And so he rows off down the river and we with him, as his wife (""If you see a whale, say hello for me"") gets small enough to fit under his cap, then tiny as a drop of water, and then disappears. Once at sea Karl does meet and romp with a whale, whom he later visits regularly until the time a broken log lays him up and the whale decides to visit him. The trials suffered by the whale on his way up Karl's river cause him actually to grow smaller -- just how small is brought home in the last picture of the trio visiting contentedly in the living room, Karl and his wife in their armchairs and the whale in a glass jar on the table. Karl's wobbly outlined paintings, sometimes reminiscent of Byron Barton, have an artless air that suits the story's straightfaced take-it-or-leave-it tone and invites from very young children the same sort of unquestioning attachment that Karl, his wife and the whale have for each other.