“Flippers paddle. Flukes push. In every ocean on Earth, humpback whales swim.” So begins this introduction to humpback migration.
Sayre structures her tale around a mother whale, beginning as she is about to give birth and migrate north to colder waters with her calf. Their journey will be long, and they will face many dangers, man-made and natural. The primary text features fairly short sentences, onomatopoeia and simple vocabulary to engage younger readers. Italicized asides interspersed throughout go into greater depth for older children and their grown-ups, discussing whale songs, food sources and survival challenges to name just a few. Deep blues and greens highlighted with white crests are rendered in charcoal and pastel on sanded paper, providing a textural immediacy that plunges readers into the ocean. The occasional placement of black text over Hogan’s appropriately murky depths occasionally makes reading a challenge. A conclusion provides more detailed information on migration and studying whales.
There’s plenty of drama and appeal in this primary-grade introduction. (Informational picture book. 5-8)