In this sequel to her middle-school-age novel Isabel of the Whales (2006), Velmans flips the script and features a whale that turns into a boy.
Opening three years after the start of Isabel of the Whales, this new installment features Isabel having trouble adjusting to life back on land after her adventure as a humpback whale. School, boyfriends and family life don’t interest her as they might another young teen, and she longs to return to the ocean. Then she gets a shock when a beached whale near her home turns out to be her friend Jessaloup. In order to communicate with her, he becomes human. Isabel teaches Jessaloup how to walk, talk and eat like a human, then she learns that he has come to warn her of a devastating tsunami headed toward her home on Cape Cod. Isabel has trouble getting the police to take her warnings seriously, but finally convinces her science teacher, who takes her and Jessaloup to an oceanographic institute to get advice. A young scientist studying whale songs believes Isabel and helps spread the word and start the evacuation. But Isabel’s biggest surprise is yet to come, as her parents reveal the identity they’ve kept hidden from her. That secret identity, while not completely unexpected, provides a satisfying twist and reinforces a theme that runs through the story—be true to one’s self. In many ways, the plot thread involving Isabel’s family makes for a more compelling story than the tsunami threat, though Isabel and Jessaloup's race against time and the book's spirit of adventure keep the pages turning.
A fantasy that will satisfy fans of Velmans’ previous work as well as new readers, budding scientists in particular.