A BOOK ABOUT WHALES by Andrea Antinori


by ; illustrated by ; translated by
Age Range: 8 - 12
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Conversational text and pencil illustrations introduce the largest members of the cetacean order.

The first page of dryly humorous text faces a full-page illustration that is immediately engaging: A fisherman in a small boat has unwittingly cast his line near an enormous humpback whale, which seems to be deciding whether a playful tug is warranted. The author/illustrator tells readers he knows they are already whale lovers, but he wants to tell them more, because “I’m very chatty.” The layout is exceptional, with blue lettering, blue wavelike patterns under each page number, and thoughtful placement of the myriad, masterful illustrations. Some of the illustrated explanations make good use of common objects to explain whale anatomy, as in a colander for baleen and an accordion for ventral pleats. There is also great fun in size comparisons of whales with other things, including a train carriage and Tyrannosaurus rex. The text falls short in its editing; there are errors and inconsistencies in word usage, taxonomy, and spelling. Its greatest failing is in its section “And Humans?” It mentions the 1986 international whaling ban, adding that there are “some who try to get around those rules.” The next paragraph tells about Indigenous peoples who still use traditional whaling for their survival—but doesn’t mention that their actions are lawful. Readers may well draw the wrong conclusion here, leading to a whale of a missed teaching opportunity.

Appealing but unpolished. (bibliography, whale-watching sites, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 14th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-4197-3502-8
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Abrams
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2019


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