Title: if you want to see a whale
Author: Julie Fogliano
Illustrator: Erin E. Stead
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (May 7, 2013)
Audience: 4-7 years (preschool-grade 2)
Summary: A young boy, accompanied by his dog, wants to see a whale but keeps getting distracted by all the other things that come along. Keeping his focus is hard, but once he settles down and is willing to wait for it, the whale appears.
Literary elements at work in the story: Written only in lower case and illustrated with a simple linoleum printing technique, this book begs to be read slowly and softly. With only a few words on each page, the reader has to be patient (as does the boy) and learn to wait for the goal to be realized. Anticipation builds as each page is turned, pulling the reader into the boy’s quest in a subtle way that is most captivating.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Simplicity and focus is the key to this story and both the author and illustrator have done an excellent job in keeping both in the forefront. A simple boy and his dog lead us on a journey that isn’t far from home in any setting.
Theological Conversation Partners: The prophet Elijah was a man full of fire and zeal for the Lord who found himself alone in a cave arguing with God near the end of his ministry. “I have been zealous for the Lord,” Elijah pleaded as he begged God to end his life because he felt defeated, alone and without a clear focus. God’s answer came in a resounding way. A mountain splitting wind was followed by an earthquake full of fire! But God was not in the wind, earthquake and fire. Then came “a sound of sheer silence” and Elijah knew he was truly in the presence of the Almighty. (I Kings 19:3-18). So often we get caught up in the calamity of what is surrounding us, allowing distractions to take our eyes away from where our focus should be. The Psalmist reminds us to “Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10). When did the little boy finally see the whale he had been looking for? When he got still and waited. What a beautiful lesson for all of us to remember. Be still and know…
Faith Talk Questions:
- Name a time when you got distracted from something you were doing or looking for. What was your distraction? How did you regain your focus?
- What keeps you busy most of the time?
- How do you make time for stillness in your life?
This review was written by regular contributor Krista Lovell.
If You Want to See a Whale by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.