cover image Whale Trails, Before and Now

Whale Trails, Before and Now

Lesa Cline-Ransome, illus. by G. Brian Karas. Holt/Ottaviano, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9642-2

In a pensive story about how human perceptions of whales have evolved, modern-day scenes narrated by an African-American girl, whose family conducts whale-watching expeditions, appear alongside scenes of maritime history, drawn in muted grays and browns. A boardwalk full of families ready to board the Cuffee contrasts with a scene of whalers preparing to leave port. While the modern girl’s backpack includes “snacks, binoculars, a camera, and a sweater,” in whaling days, “the ship was packed with harpoons, toggles, lances, spades, blubber forks, and sailors’ biscuits.” Both text and art tiptoe around the brutality of whaling, skipping from “the first sight of blood” from a speared whale to the sailors’ cleanup and the products derived from whales. Comprehensive author’s notes help emphasize the pronounced shift from fearing whales to revering them. Ages 5–9. Illustrator’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford. J. Greenburger Associates. (Jan.)