Waiting for Whales

Sheryl McFarlane, Author, Ron Lightburn, Illustrator Philomel Books $14.95 (1p) ISBN 978-0-399-22515-4
Already the winner of the Canadian National Book Award, this luminous picture book--a first effort for both collaborators--tells the simple story of an old man who lives alone in a house overlooking the sea. His life has assumed a cozy regularity to match the seasons: collecting firewood and clams in wintertime; planting his garden in the spring; and, in summer, watching his beloved orca whales swimming by. When his daughter comes to visit one spring with a new infant, the man has someone with whom to share his love of the natural world--especially the whales. Written in precisely cadenced prose, McFarlane's story about thecycles of life--while not a new theme--is so deftly handled that it becomes genuinely moving. (The old man dies, and his daughter comforts the child: ``Don't be sad, sweet girl. Your grandfather's spirit has gone to leap and swim with the whales.'') The meticulousness of Lightburn's pastel drawings perfectly complements this gentle scenario--his use of light and shade, for example, proves remarkable. One drawing in particular, of the old man and his granddaughter examining a small branch in the woods, serves as a compelling portrait of intergenerational love that sums up this book's joyous, life-affirming mood. Ages 4-up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1993
Release date: 03/01/1993
Genre: Children's
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