2014: The Year of the Whale
Inspired by the exceptional A Fuse #8 Production (who in the past has alerted us to The Year of the Chloe, The Year of the Jackalope, and The Year of the Raven) I’ve noticed an animal on the rise that I want to share. Let me try this out.
2014: The Year of the Whale
Do I have actual quantifiable data to back this up? No. Did I know how to spell quantifiable before that last sentence? Negative. Is that how you spell quantifiable? But what I do have is mounting anecdotal evidence to suggest that whales are where it’s at.
Before presenting my case, I’d like to note that I can understand why whales seem to be in the zeitgeist right now. Nothing says majestic beauty like these massive, intelligent, (mostly) peaceful creatures. The fact that they live so long gives them an air of wisdom as well. The book that put me on whale watch¹ was 2013’s If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and Erin E. Stead.
This story features, for my money, one of the best conclusions of the year, as the whale surfaces in front of the boy’s boat.²
Now in 2014, I can’t help but notice them everywhere. To paraphrase Great American Philosopher John Cusack in the film High Fidelity, “first they were nowhere, then they were everywhere.”³ They are even popping up in books that aren’t necessarily about whales. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.
Breathe by Scott Magoon (April, 2014)
Following Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino (April 3, 2014)
The Storm Whale by Benji Davies (September 30, 2014)
Whaley Whale by Chris Raschka (April 8, 2014)*
Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman (May 20, 2014)
Clara and Clem: Under the Sea by Ethan Long (May 29, 2014)
Bird & Squirrel: On Ice by James Burks (September 30, 2014)
Beekle by Dan Santat (April 1, 2014)
The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell (April 2014)
Any more to add?
¹Another 2013 book featuring a whale was I Wish I Had… by Giovanna Zobol, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani
² I also feel that book may have been the inspiration for this t-shirt, which we recently bought for our daughter:
³ Cusack’s character is talking about girls here, but the connection to this situation is clear. It also reminds me that maybe whales are in a lot of books every year and it’s just that now I’m noticing because I’m looking for them. Not sure.
* This is actually an older book that ABRAMS Appleseed is re-releasing, but I’m counting it.
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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