cover image Soren’s Seventh Song

Soren’s Seventh Song

Dave Eggers, illus. by Mark Hoffmann. Cameron, $19.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-9518-3673-3

Soren, an adolescent humpback whale, finds the traditional songs of his species “outrageously boring,” writes Eggers (Her Right Foot). “Soren wanted to make shorter, catchier songs, with melodies, and choruses, and maybe even maracas or theremins. He had ideas!” The other young whales are ready for change, too, but when Soren debuts his new tune, the response is far from encouraging—in fact, it causes a couple, including best friend Hans, to throw up. But Soren won’t give up, employing tenacity that, much to the story’s credit, isn’t portrayed with clichéd pluckiness. Instead, the whale just keeps doggedly at it, described via an approachable voice and novella-like pacing, as Hoffmann (Iamasaurus) immerses readers in a painterly aquatic world that’s both beautiful and funny (the refracted light and ocean currents are almost palpable, while reappearing pink whale vomit delivers as a visual joke). Eventually, a genuine hit does emerge, after Soren eschews his musical preoccupations and incorporates the “bright beauty” that surrounds him. It’s hard work to make something that’s not only new but wins the hearts of others, but in the hands of these creators—human and whale alike—the labors of the creative process sing. Ages 6–9. Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Feb.)