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Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies

Check out the two different covers: American release and European release
AR Level: 2.3
AR Points: 0.5
AR Quiz Number: 170352
Page Count: 28

The Storm Whale first fell into my lap as a gift from a friend who had just returned from Europe. Knowing my fondness for picture books, my friend had gathered a small collection of books in various languages from countries visited, The Storm Whale being one. That being said, I am biased in its favor and couldn't help but be charmed by it at first read (despite being unable to actually read it).

Trying to gleam meaning from a book in a language I do not know was a powerful reminder of what the picture book experience is like for young children. I knew the words meant something and would make clear what the story was about, but for the most part I had to rely on the pictures to tell the story (that is, until I bought a copy in English).

The Storm Whale is the story of a young boy who lives by the sea with his father, who unfortunately works a great deal and is mostly absent from his life. Feeling lonely, Noi (the little boy) ends up bringing home a stranded whale and hiding it in his bathtub for company. Naturally, this secret does not last long, and the father finds the whale in the tub.

Now, the father's reaction is my favorite part of this story. Instead of getting angry, he understands that Noi is lonely and that they haven't been spending time together. He helps Noi return the whale to the sea, and then makes an effort to spend more time with his son... very sweet.

I love books that show positive fatherly role models, and I feel like this would make a great bedtime story for a father to read to son or daughter. The illustrations are charming as well. I love how Noi is the main character, and yet has the most simple face...two dot eyes, one little "C" shaped nose, and no mouth or hair to be seen. This simple face can also be seen on the storm whale itself, drawing a parallel between the two characters, which is echoed on the final spread in which you sea Noi spending time with his father, and two whale tails in the distant ocean (one large and one small).

If you are a big fan, you can purchase a miniature knitted storm whale for yourself or your kids by visiting Benji Davies website. Originally these whales were knitted by Benji's mother, but due to the demand, they have outsourced it to Fair Trade Nepal, which gives people the opportunity to earn a fair wage for their skilled labor. The price is currently 35 pounds, which is roughly $44 depending on the current exchange rate. I'm a school librarian, so spending $44 on a knitted whale is not something I can justify at this time... BUT if I were to be in the market for a stuffed whale, this would be it. It is super cute and carries the charm of the book into tangible life. If you are interested, you can click the link below to purchase your own.

If you've enjoyed The Storm Whale like I did, there is good news! The Storm Whale in Winter, a follow up book, was just released and I preordered a copy. I'll be writing up a review here shortly.

For more information you can check out Benji Davies website at http://www.benjidavies.com/blog/
I am excited to explore more of his work, especially the colorful Grandad's Island, or his more recent Also An Octopus.

As always, I'd like to invite you to visit me at www.facebook.com/mssmithreads/ . Till next time!