cover image Heartbeat


Evan Turk. Atheneum, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-4814-3520-8

Turk (The Storyteller) creates an achingly poignant tribute to the beauty and dignity of whales. In powerful pastel spreads of intense red, brilliant blue, and deep, oceanic black, Turk shows a mother whale with a yet-to-be-born baby visible inside her: “One heart beats. Two hearts beat.” Once born, the baby and the mother sing together, their song rendered as clouds flowing from their mouths. Then a harpoon’s barb slashes across the page to find the mother, and the baby’s heart beats on without hers in panels of mournful gray. The young whale spends decades alone as its brethren are slaughtered for their oil, which is burned for illumination around the world. Fast forward to the present: a small girl with two pigtails leans from the bow of a boat, hears the lonely whale’s song, and sings with it. Turk’s impactful artwork reinforces the powerful, easily graspable metaphor of the heartbeat, representing the unity of human and animal life. The more complex message about the commodification of ocean life, detailed in an appended note, will require careful context setting and explanation. Ages 4–8. [em](June) [/em]