An Ocean World

Overview

A whale grows up in an aquarium, never knowing any other whales. Now that she's too big for her tank, she is going to be returned to the sea. In all the great vastness of the ocean, will she be able to find a friend?

Author Biography: Peter Sis was born in Czechoslovakia and now lives in New York City with his wife and two children. His drawings appear regularly in The New York Times Book Review and other publications. He is the author-artist of The Three Golden Keys, Komodo!, ...

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Overview

A whale grows up in an aquarium, never knowing any other whales. Now that she's too big for her tank, she is going to be returned to the sea. In all the great vastness of the ocean, will she be able to find a friend?

Author Biography: Peter Sis was born in Czechoslovakia and now lives in New York City with his wife and two children. His drawings appear regularly in The New York Times Book Review and other publications. He is the author-artist of The Three Golden Keys, Komodo!, Follow the Dream, and A Small, Tall Tale from the Far, Far North. He has illustrated several books by other authors, including Sid Fleischman and George Shannon.In His Own Words...

"I was born in the middle of the century and grew up in the magical city of Prague, Czechoslovakia, in the heart of Europe. My father was a filmmaker and explorer, and he brought back many interesting things from his travels to Tibet, Borneo, and other places all over the world.

"From early on, I was encouraged to make pictures by my mother and father, both artists, and by their artist friends. I was not always encouraged at school, where I used to draw little pictures on everything, for everybody, usually in the middle of class.

"I remember with great fondness what I thought of as the largest bookstore imaginable. It was our library at home. My mother's father designed railway stations in Cleveland and Chicago in the 1930s, and my mother lived in the United States as a little girl. When the family returned home, my grandfather brought back with him a great many books, including a collection of all the Sunday cartoons from the Chicago newspapers bound in one large volume. I remember stretchingmyself over a page, and panel by panel devouring Little Orphan Annie, Mutt and Jeff, Krazy Kat, and the one with the little cable car.

"I went from art school to art school and had some wonderful teachers, especially J. Trnka, who was a famous illustrator and animator. I remember sometimes becoming so involved with a picture that I didn't notice the night was just about over. I would place the picture next to my bed so that I could see it first thing when I awoke. Things changed when my daughter, Madeleine, was born. I began to get up at night to look at the picture and my daughter. Now that my son, Matej, is here, my pictures remain out of the house in the babyproof studio, and I get up at night just to look at the children.

"I was lucky to have Quentin Blake as a tutor at London's Royal College of Art. By that time, I had already become involved with animated films. After my film Heads won a prize in Berlin in 1980, 1 did an animation series for TV in Zurich, Switzerland, and then another film in London. Before I knew it, I found myself working on a film in Los Angeles. But what I really wanted was to draw and paint my own pictures.

"On the advice of a wonderful friend, Josine lanco, I wrote to Maurice Sendak, hardly expecting him to write back. He didn't. He telephoned, first from the East Coast and then from Los Angeles, where he had come to be honored by the American Library Association. By then I had a hazy idea that I should go to the East to meet with children's book publishers.

"To my surprise, Mr. Sendak, after seeing my portfolio, in the last hours of the ALA convention, introduced me to Ava Weiss, Greenwillow's art director. I showed her my work, and she in turn introduced me to Susan Hirschman and Greenwillow. Shortly thereafter I started work on my first book, Bean Boy, by George Shannon. I moved to New York, and here I am, many books and some dozen years later. Before I had Madeleine and Matej, I thought the reason I did my books was to win medals and awards. Now I have received the Caldecott Honor and awards from the Society of Illustrators, the New York Times, the Boston Globe-Horn Book, and many international organizations. And what really matters to me is not awards but what children—and my own children in particular—think of my books. Now I do my books just for them. My children like my books, but they do not really know I am the author. I like it that way...."

A whale sails new seas and, after several unsuccessful attempts, makes a friend.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A whale raised in captivity discovers a new world when it is returned to the ocean. PW said, "S s illustrates this gentle, quixotic tale with shimmering watercolors in all the hues of sea and sky." Ages 3-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this practically wordless picture book, a whale that has been raised in captivity is returned to the open ocean. Never having seen another of her kind, she mistakes several objects for fellow whales--a spouting boat, a submarine, a whale-shaped dirigible--until she finally comes upon a mate. Sis illustrates this gentle, quixotic tale with shimmering watercolors in all the hues of the sea and sky: the blues and greens of the sky and waves, the monotonous gray of a drenching rain over the water, the oranges and pinks of the sun. The isolation and hopefulness of the whale--who is amiable but tiny against the ocean--speak poignantly for themselves. And at every turn the reader must consider the visual similarities between often very disparate objects--the book thus becomes a rich invitation to experiment with seeing and imagining the world in new and unexpected ways. Ages 3-up. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
K - Gr 3-- A young whale, raised alone in the aquarium, has at last outgrown his confines and is ready to be released into the ocean. But, having never seen another whale, Sis wonders ``what it will be like for her!'' In an amusing series of illustrations, he speculates just that as he depicts her encounters with leviathan-shaped entities--a blimp, a cloud, a school of fish, a barge--until finally another whale appears. The two swim off into the sunset as love conquers all. From the dedication page to the postcard home from Ocean World, which sets up the premise, to the gently gibing drawings of an aquarium, this nearly wordless book features fine, sophisticated watercolor illustrations and sly humor. Full-page and numerous smaller frames reflect the vastness of the whale's new home, and ecological implications are raised when a barge dumps its load of trash right into her face. The pictures are appropriately muted, and the color of the sea and sky vary with the changing light. Very young children may see this as a quick glance-through picture book, but possibilities of usage abound for clever teachers and older students who can appreciate its subtleties. --Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, NY -
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688175184
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/30/2000
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 24
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years

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