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Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Blue Whale, written and illustrated by Jenny Desmond. Enchanted Lion Books, Publishers Group Canada. 2015. $24.95 ages 5 and up

"A blue whale can measure up to 100 feet. That is the same length as a truck, a digger, a boat, a car, a bicycle, a motorcycle, a van, and a tractor - all lined up."

Wow! Kids who love learning as much as they can about whales are going to be delighted by this warm and most enjoyable nonfiction. It is a celebration of Earth's largest creature and will be a welcome addition to library shelves - personal or public.

The text is entirely appropriate for young readers, allowing them a wealth of information and giving them a sense of the immense size through a series of useful perspectives:

"The top of a blue whale's mouth is lined with
300-400 baleen plates which are made of a
black fingernail-like material. A blue whale's
tongue weighs three tons, and its mouth
is so big that 50 people can stand inside it.
Fortunately, blue whales don't eat people."

I love that the little boy who is learning all he can about the blue whale is reading this very book ... we can see him on most pages. The author's careful research provides a spirited look at this magnificent being - its size, color, markings, sight, hearing, food, young, life span, breathing, and some of difficulties it faces. A world map shows that blue whales have been found in all of the earth's oceans. The mixed media illustrations capture the spirit of learning about something so loved. Lively, beautifully designed to assure understanding, they will captivate those who share this wonderful book, and encourage careful consideration of all that is presented.

At the end of a long day of discovery, we find the boy back in his bedroom and just finishing his book. The window wall is decorated with the many drawings he has made while reading. His stuffed animals and toys are all asleep on the floor. We have yet one more thing to learn about the blue whale and its sleep pattern:

"Blue whales sleep by taking very short naps while slowly swimming
close to the ocean’s surface. This is called logging. They sleep in this way
because they have to remember to open their blowhole in order to
breathe. Blue whales can never completely lose consciousness,
not even in sleep, otherwise they would drown."

Aah! To sleep now and to dream.


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