cover image The Storm Whale

The Storm Whale

Benji Davies. Holt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9967-6

Noi’s father is a fisherman, and when he leaves early every morning, Noi knows “he wouldn’t be home again till dark.” But Noi’s solitary life (with the exception of the family’s six cats) ends when he discovers a baby whale washed up on the beach. He gives the whale a new home in his bathtub, plays it water-themed music (note the album of Handel’s Water Music by the tub), and tells it “stories about life on the island. The whale was an excellent listener.” The whale must go back to the sea, of course, but not before Noi’s father steps outside his grueling routine and recognizes how much his son yearns for companionship. This is a lovely story of familial rapprochement in every respect; in his debut as author, illustrator Davies’s (Railroad Hank) matter-of-fact but deeply empathic storytelling is matched by crisp, evocative scenes of coastal life, from the ramshackle, weathered home where Noi and his father live to the endless expanse of the ocean at night. There’s no big finish or obvious lesson, but the message about the importance of being seen is difficult to miss. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)