cover image The Boy and the Whale

The Boy and the Whale

Mordicai Gerstein. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-62672-505-8

A number of online videos show humans freeing whales tangled in ropes and nets; Gerstein acknowledges these as the inspiration for this story. Abelardo, the brown-skinned, shaggy-haired boy who narrates, is the son of a fisherman and lives by the ocean. One morning he spots a large mass in the bay. A whale is entangled in their only fishing net. It looks dead. His father is distraught: “He cursed the whale with words I’d never heard him say.” Gerstein (The Sleeping Gypsy) paints father and son approaching the captive whale in their panga: “I had never been so close to an animal so huge.” The story of how the boy discovers that the great creature is still alive, and gathers the courage to save it, will thrill readers. Gerstein writes with short, strong words, full of heart. Watery turquoise panels, including a dramatic vertical spread, emphasize the whale’s size and the danger the boy faces. The boy disobeys his father to save a creature that cannot speak, and Gerstein paints the story in a way that allows readers to feel that they’re part of the action. Ages 4–7. (Nov.)