cover image The Fisherman & the Whale

The Fisherman & the Whale

Jessica Lanan. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5344-1574-4

Lanan (Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet) tells her wordless tale in strong, confident watercolors. A small fishing boat bobs on gray waves as a man and a boy empty a net full of fish. Below them, a humpback whale gets tangled in the creel lines. A striking vertical spread shows the animal immobilized and helpless, the water dark and deep beneath it. Back on the boat, the boy spots the whale and persuades the captain to act. The boat approaches the animal, and Lanan stops the action with two poignant close-ups that underline their shared creatureliness: one shows the captain’s eye, which carries a reflection of the entangled whale; the other shows the whale’s eye reflecting tiny images of the humans. The father dives to set the whale free, and the whale repays his rescue with a spectacular display. Lanan’s cinematic storytelling pace never flags. She distills the global problem of sea life trapped by nets into a tightly focused narrative in which those who caused the damage are able to save the animal they hurt—a rescue that kids will imagine carrying out themselves (though an author’s note warns them not to try dangerous dives). Ages 4–8. Agent: Ed Maxwell, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. [em](May) [/em]