Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan illustrated by Jane Tanner

Dark as a demon, dull of eye,
Waiting in silence to drift ... or die

Whales and sharks are fascinating creatures and since I work in a school beside the sea these are topics which each fill entire shelves in our school library.

Storm Whale is a beautiful book told in verse.  I would use this with an older group so I find it curious that the publisher lists ages 4-8.  I do hope to see it on the CBCA short list or Notable list for 2018.  I am excited to see Storm Whale on the nomination list for the Kate Greenaway Medal.  Also on this list you will find several other Australian titles including Home in the rain by Bob Graham.

The in Storm Whale imagery is confronting at times and also beautiful :

"Hair flew wild like a brumby's tail ...
And there, on the beach, lay the stranded whale."

"Casting prayers to the wild wet air,
Which wouldn't listen and couldn't care."

The children make a desperate attempt to save the stranded whale but eventually darkness forces them back to their holiday house.  After a restless night, when no one sleeps, the morning brings calm and happy news.  I love the way words like golden peach can so beautifully lift the mood.

"Morning rose like a golden peach,
Glowing over the wide white beach."

Here is a set of teachers notes from the publisher. I would pair this book with The snail and the whale by Julia Donaldson, The storm whale by Benji Davies, The whales' song by Dyan Sheldon and Stranded by Jan Ramage.

I have been a huge fan of Jane Tanner ever since I saw her books Drac and the Gremlin and Wolf.  Looking at all the books I have mentioned in this post I can see there are several books I need to talk about in the coming weeks including this really special one The Whales Song which also features an exquisitely lyric text.

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