A whale that died off Canada’s East Coast gets a new life as an exhibit in a West Coast museum.
In 1987, when a dead blue whale washed up on Prince Edward Island, she was buried, in hopes that time would reduce her to a skeleton. Twenty years later, when a crew from the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver, British Columbia, came to investigate, it turned out that the clay soil had not done its work. It was humans who unearthed her, stripped flesh, power-washed bones, used degreasing solvents and vapor to remove rancid oil inside the bones, restored and reassembled the skeleton. Big Blue’s bones now hang without an external frame, an 85-foot skeletal centerpiece for the museum since 2010. Miettunen, a museum volunteer, has chosen to tell this unusual story in three ways. First she recounts the events as a bland, lightly fictionalized present-tense text accompaniment to striking color photographs. Then there’s more-challenging exposition of “the true story,” illustrated with smaller photographs showing the process step by step. Finally, there are backmatter sections including short biographies of the team and extensive blue whale facts. The result is a curious hybrid of picture book, museum catalog, and natural-history nonfiction which may puzzle its readers but might also draw a wider audience through its varied approach.
A fascinating story curiously told. (author’s note, resources, credits, bibliography) (Informational picture book/nonfiction. 5-12)