cover image Mocha Dick: The Legend and the Fury

Mocha Dick: The Legend and the Fury

Brian Heinz, illus. by Randall Enos. Creative Editions, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56846-242-4

Heinz’s (Red Fox at McCloskey’s Farm) history of the whale that inspired Melville’s Moby-Dick is beautifully written, magnificently illustrated, and agonizing to read. The white whale Mocha Dick, named for the island off Chile whose waters he frequented, was hunted and wounded, but survived: “Six teeth were shattered, one eye made blind.” His encounter with a harpoon made him a warrior bent on revenge. He pursued whalers and attacked them, sinking harpooners’ boats and sending sailors to the bottom of the sea before he was tracked down and slaughtered by those whose cruelty drove him mad. Enos’s (My Full Moon Is Square) superb linocuts recall 19th-century folk art. He combs the waves with curls and swells, then breaks them with the bulk of the breaching whale. The sailors who tumble out of their boats cry out of gaping, toothy mouths. In the borders, neatly labeled portraits of sea life and whaling tools ignore the mayhem within. Only the most resolute readers will come away unaffected: “Mocha Dick made a final lunge, but his strength ebbed away. His spirit was broken.” Ages 6–up. (Sept.)