Do the Whales Still Sing?: 9

Dianne Hofmeyer, Author, Judy Daly, Illustrator, Jude Daly, Illustrator
Dianne Hofmeyer, Author, Judy Daly, Illustrator, Jude Daly, Illustrator Dial Books $14.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-1740-4
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Some excesses of sentimentality aside, this thoughtful tale is bound to fill readers with a yearning for the sea. An ambitious sea captain relentlessly hunts whales. With each catch, he carves a whale's image on the ship's railing; eventually there are too many to count. But the brutal hunting by day gives way to sweet music-making by night as the whale-hunter abandons his harpoon for his wooden flute. One evening the captain notices other music, emanating from the sea: ``mysterious sounds... thrummed the dark depths and trilled the winds."" Whales breach in the moonlight, ``but the captain did not reach for his harpoon gun.'' The whales' song transforms the captain: ""Gone was his desire for killing. It was time to find another way to live, and he felt at peace."" In their deliberate naivete, Daly's (The Dove) gouaches match the text's elements of boldness and restraint. The story, while moving, is sometimes contrived (e.g., the sailor vaguely associates the whales' song with the ""sweet sounds of his mother's lullaby and the melody of his father's voice""). Ages 5-up. (May)
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