A gray whale and her calf migrate from south to north in this British import.
As in Weaver’s debut, Little One (2016), luminous charcoal illustrations reveal and enhance a loving relationship between an animal mother and (non–gender-specific) child. Double-page spreads in varying shades of blue show the mother and calf swimming past coral reefs, over waving fronds of seaweed, through schools of fish, under a starry sky, and on and on through the vast sea on their journey home. The monochromatic pages sparkle with sunlight, evoke the watery sway of plant life, and capture the vastness of the open ocean as appropriate. A pod of orcas provides a frisson of danger, the calf’s exhaustion a modicum of suspense, but overall the mood is serene. Imagined exchanges between Gray Whale and Little Whale will sound comfortingly familiar to both young listeners and adult readers. When the child/calf asks, “Are we nearly there?” the mother responds, “Not yet,” and offers encouragement to continue swimming. While the dialogue obviously anthropomorphizes the characters somewhat, the pictures provide a generally realistic view of the animals and their habitat. The straightforward text, which tracks their progress and describes the natural world through which they travel, likewise emphasizes the fact-based nature of the tale.
A soothing and appealing read-aloud, this lovely look under the sea may spark scientific curiosity in listeners. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)