Following Papa’s Song

Gianna Marino. Viking, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-670-01315-9
When the whales make the long migration to their summer feeding ground, first-timer Little Blue is full of questions that betray his anxieties about the journey. His huge, even-tempered Papa is the picture of reassurance, explaining that whales have been migrating “for years upon years,” and even if Little Blue gets lost (which he does, carried away by the beauty of the ocean and a burgeoning sense of adventure), he need only listen for Papa’s special song. In this thematic companion to 2012’s Meet Me at the Moon, Marino’s writing is solemn and earnest (“Papa’s voice echoed across the sea, through the liquid light and deep into the mysterious black”), but her gouache illustrations are exuberant and gorgeous, with a parchmentlike texture that captures dappling sunlight, murky depths, and the endless energy of the current. This visual eloquence carries over to her portrayal of father and son, as wells: even though the whales are seen almost exclusively in profile, their soulful eyes exude unconditional love and a faith in the forces of nature. Ages 3–5. Agent: Deborah Warren, East/West Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/27/2014
Release date: 04/03/2014
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