Building upon Yours Sincerely, Giraffe (2017), Professor Whale organizes an Olympics.
Author Iwasa sets her story at Whale Point, with Professor Whale as the protagonist (although now he is retired, he would really like to be called the more casual “Whaley” or “Big Blue”). When Professor Whale sends out many letters via Seal in his attempt to follow Giraffe’s lead from the first book and discover new animals in the world, his only answer is from Wally, a young whale who lives at Otto Island—a disappointment, as Professor Whale was expecting a letter from an animal he wouldn’t normally meet. Turns out, though, Wally is the grandson of an old friend of Professor Whale’s who moved away in the big migration. Wally mentions an Olympics held long ago at Whale Point, at which his grandfather won a silver medal, and Professor Whale is inspired to organize another one. This part is delightfully silly, since the events are: a seal swimming race, a penguin walking race, and a whale spouting contest. Overall, though, the story labors to sparkle, mostly because it’s so predictable—even many of Takabatake’s black-and-white spot illustrations lack pizzazz. The story’s theme of friendship plays out in regular helpings of goodness on the parts of the characters, and while kindness and friendship are wonderful things, a bit of spice is nice too.
Not nearly as fresh as Yours Sincerely, Giraffe but not a total bust, either. (Fantasy. 6-10)