This eye-catching picture book presents the history of the legendary sperm whale behind the Herman Melville classic.
The sperm whale Mocha Dick was first sighted in 1810 off the coast of Chile, and over the course of almost 50 years, he waged over 100 battles with whalers. Sailors referred to him as “the White Whale of the Pacific.” Mocha Dick’s legendary status sprang from his behavior as the hunter, rather than the hunted. He attacked whaleboats and whaling ships, and when he was finally killed, he had the rusting heads of 19 harpoons in his body. This engrossing tale—told with an expert succinctness by Heinz—avoids the tendency to romanticize 19th-century whaling and instead tells a plain-speaking story of a whale fighting for its life and its right to live. Enos pairs the crisp words with distinctive illustrations reminiscent of scrimshaw blended with primitive woodcuts, giving the story an old-fashioned (but not nostalgic), nautical feel. In its overall design, the book manages to inflect what often looks like a 19th-century sensational newspaper story with a more modern sensibility of empathy for hunted whales. In doing this, it has achieved that goal of all good picture books—an entity far greater than its parts.
A tour de force of design, story and illustration. (Picture book. 5-10)