A very young white whale swims into the wider world of the arctic seas, celebrating first adventures of the very young.
Magoon’s digital art captures the colors and crisp, airy light of the Arctic setting; cartoon lines and wide eyes present creatures above and under the ice as friendly, rounded and smiling. Even the polar bear—seen against the sky through an ice hole as a dark shadow, possibly threatening—is fairly benign. The little whale (clearly a baby beluga but not named as such) is doing the work that toddlers do—exploring the world with mama nearby. The few words of the text speak both to whale baby and, by extension, to the listener: “Play all day // and swim, / and swim, / and swim. // Breathe.” This last (“Breathe”) appears on a double-page spread in which the young whale is surrounded by the vast sea, snowy mountains, and a pale, bright sun. Then a dive changes the palette from the pale blues and whites of the surface through greeny yellows and finally to dark: Here, what was perhaps an arctic whaler, stilled and slightly ghostly, sits on the seafloor. The simple adventure concludes with an anthropomorphic yet welcome invitation: “Most of all, love / and be loved.”
Richly composed and sweetly appealing—just right for baby storytimes as well as one-to-one sharing. (Picture book. 6 mos.-3)