cover image Whale in a Fishbowl

Whale in a Fishbowl

Troy Howell, illus. by Richard Jones. Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (42p) ISBN 978-1-5247-1518-2

Wednesday the Whale lives in an enormous glass bowl in the middle of a busy urban interchange. If she leaps upward, she can see an expanse of blue beyond the city. What is it? The sight fills her with longing. Humans who watch her desperate leaps misunderstand: “People said she was doing tricks.” Only one, a child named Piper, perceives what Wednesday needs. “You belong in the sea,” she tells Wednesday. Wednesday wonders, “What was the sea?” Howell (Lizbeth Lou Got a Rock in Her Shoe) portrays the captive whale as puzzled rather than resentful, and Jones (Winter Dance) further softens the emotional impact of Wednesday’s dilemma by painting the bowl and the surrounding buildings in quiet grays and blues. After a tremendous final leap, illustrated in a dramatic gatefold spread, Wednesday’s tank tips over and the water carries her to the ocean. Images of the cramped glass bowl give way to reaches of vast and endless blue. Wednesday, who filled her bowl, all but disappears into the ocean, and, for the first time, she sings. By reaching for emotional rather than documentary truth, this team explores the injustice of captivity with a gentle touch. Ages 4–8. (May)