With this story that amazes while it informs, readers cannot help but be touched by a singular event in which an ensnared humpback whale makes a profound connection with her rescuers.
Off the coast of San Francisco in 2005, a fisherman radios an alert that there is a trapped whale caught in crab-trap lines. When a rescue boat is sent to investigate, it is clear that extreme measures must be taken to save her. Four divers risk their lives to swim up close in order to sever each of the lines cutting into the whale’s skin. As the divers work, the whale’s big eye watches them. Once free, the whale dives, begins circling around the divers and then seems to disappear. Diver “James is puzzled.” In a dramatic page turn, readers can experience the same surprise as the diver: “With a jolt, James sees her heading straight for him!” This is just one instance where O’Connell expertly merges the art of storytelling with journalistic excellence in recounting this well-researched past event. The drama builds to the moment in which the huge whale gently gives “a little nudge” to every diver before swimming away. The painted illustrations portray the situation from various perspectives and are a strong complement to the gripping text.
A whale of a tale for sure. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)