cover image The Whale

The Whale

Ethan and Vita Murrow. Candlewick/Templar, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7965-1

The Murrows, a husband-and-wife team, debut with a sumptuously illustrated, semi-wordless story of discovery and collaboration as two children attempt to prove the existence of a local "Great Spotted Whale." Bookended by images of the local newspaper, the Cape Chronicle, which provide necessary context and detail, the story follows the separate efforts of a boy and girl as they build and outfit boats with cameras, audio equipment, and recording devices, then head out into the surf. Dramatic b&w pencil illustrations readily conjure the power of the sea: a violent crash brings the two children together, and their initial anger turns to a spirit of cooperation as they pool their efforts. In a scene that's more romantic than feasible, they push the broken halves of their respective boats together to create a new vessel. It's all worth it, though, as their hard work, determination, and scientific pay off in a big way. Dynamically varied perspectives, the inky mysteries of the water's depths, and attention to realistic detail give the artwork a strong, visceral impact. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Apr.)