THE LEGEND OF THE WHALE by Ian Stansfield

THE LEGEND OF THE WHALE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Exquisite mock-primitive paintings and a competent text combine in a new pourquoi tale about the creation of whales and their place in a universal scheme of life. The Lord of the Universe creates three whales from the shimmering light of triple moons ""in a valley which no man will see again."" A proclamation about the plight of the whales is made by the resident sage, the Timeless Lizard. The Great Wockatoo (the Lord) will send the whales out into the high seas; if they are slaughtered, the Lord will know that the inhabitants of the world are not ""ready for lasting peace,"" and he will destroy the world. The story revolves around attempts to free the whales from the rivers and tidal basins. Eventually through the help of friendly Rainbirds, the whales' liberation is achieved. Although the Great Wockatoo warns that human greed will be the death of many whales, he foresees that in time all will be well, and there will be a home for the spirits of the murdered whales with him. The invention of a legend is fraught with pitfalls, and Australian Stansfield doesn't entirely avoid them. Why is the Land of Three Moons a place no one will see again? Some details seem arbitrary rather than symbolic; the luminous obscurity of myth and the skeletal directness of fable become confused. However, the paintings are stunning, schematically and graphically, using bold primary outlines and markings on fields of subtly gradated color. Affection for wildlife rings clear, and for that alone the book will be welcome.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1986
Publisher: Godine