In this artistically rendered picture book, a whale lives through 200 years of human history, taking readers from the brutal whaling industry to activism for harmony with the ocean and its creatures.
Deep purple and red hues in soft pastel and charcoal set the tone for an emotional journey in this latest work by Turk (The Storyteller, 2016, etc.). Beginning with a red glowing spot and purple background and the words “heart… / beat,” one heartbeat inside a whale becomes two heartbeats when the whale becomes pregnant. After she gives birth, the whale calf and its mother breathe “one song” into “one ocean.” Their harmony is cut off when straight, sharp white shapes and lines intrude upon the page. Colors give way to black and white as heartbeats stagger, and the whale calf is left alone, “one heart, one song.” Whale-shaped lamps are lit, machines are oiled, which knowledgeable readers can connect to the use of whale oil. Time passes, often violently. Finally, the story comes full circle as a concerned girl with afro puffs looks out from a boat with concern and joins the whale’s song. Many voices join in, until the soft red and purple pastels return, along with the text “One world, one song, one heartbeat.” The illustrations are evocative and emotional, although caregivers will likely need to help younger readers with the abstract storytelling.
A memorable journey for sophisticated readers. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-10)