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The Whales' Song


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A dazzling new edition celebrating 25 years of this classic bestselling picture book, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal

About the Author

Dyan Sheldon (Author) Dyan Sheldon is the author of many books for young people, including Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and a number of stories for younger readers. She also writes books for adults. American by birth, she lives in north London.Gary Blythe (Illustrator) Gary Blythe is an award-winning illustrator. His first children?s picture book, The Whales? Song, written by Dyan Sheldon, won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1990. Gary lives in the Wirral, near Liverpool.


In this haunting, evocative picture book, Lilly's grandmother tells her that, when she was young, she used to leave gifts for the whales--``a perfect shell. Or a beautiful stone. And if they liked you, the whales would take your gift and give you something in return.'' Lilly's great-uncle Frederick claims that the story is ``nothing but a silly old tale,'' that she shouldn't ``be dreaming her life away.'' But one morning, Lilly, believing her grandmother's claim that ``they were the most wondrous creatures you could ever imagine,'' drops a yellow flower into the water. `` `This is for you,' she called into the air,'' and later that night she sits waiting, like a mermaid on a rock, finally receiving a gift in return. Filling the night with their song, the whales call Lilly's name. Infused with the cadences of real speech, Sheldon's poetic text manages to overlay a homespun practicality with an ethereal, fairy-tale magic. The unique grandeur and beauty of these creatures, ``as peaceful as the moon,'' are compellingly interwoven throughout the narrative. Newcomer Blythe's paintings are extraordinary. The play of light and shadow in his cozy interiors is delicately balanced against stunningly realistic faces--Lilly's purity and innocence, her elders' splendidly craggy countenances. Rendered in unusual perspectives, these vibrant panoramas of the sea and of the whales leaping from the moonlit water possess a rare luminosity and beauty that should not be missed. Ages 4-8. (May)

Gr 1-3-- Lilly's grandmother tells tales of singing whales who came from miles away in answer to a child's desire to see them dance across the waves. One night, Lilly hears the whales and watches breathlessly as they ``leaped and jumped and spun across the moon.'' Then, waking from what she thinks is a dream, she hears them call her name. Sheldon's brief story seems to be a celebration of the joys of fantasy and the belief in magical happenings. It is enriched by Blythe's wonderfully evocative paintings, which range from warm, realistic close-up portraits to dramatically moonlit seascapes. But beyond the pleasures of the dreamlike mood, the book has little substance. There is no deeper level of meaning, no foundation is offered for the idea that whales are magical, and certainly in the dolphinlike behavior of the whales there is no information on the actual habits and habitats of these wondrous creatures of the deep. --Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ

"A book of haunting images . . . a wistful, elusive fable" * Independent *

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