Some excesses of sentimentality aside, this thoughtful tale is bound to fill readers with a yearning for the sea. An ambitious sea captain relentlessly hunts whales. With each catch, he carves a whale's image on the ship's railing; eventually there are too many to count. But the brutal hunting by day gives way to sweet music-making by night as the whale-hunter abandons his harpoon for his wooden flute. One evening the captain notices other music, emanating from the sea: ``mysterious sounds... thrummed the dark depths and trilled the winds." Whales breach in the moonlight, ``but the captain did not reach for his harpoon gun.'' The whales' song transforms the captain: "Gone was his desire for killing. It was time to find another way to live, and he felt at peace." In their deliberate navet, Daly's (The Dove) gouaches match the text's elements of boldness and restraint. The story, while moving, is sometimes contrived (e.g., the sailor vaguely associates the whales' song with the "sweet sounds of his mother's lullaby and the melody of his father's voice"). Ages 5-up. (May)
- Kathleen Karr
This South African import has an Ancient Mariner-like narrator with a happy ending to his tale of a whale hunter reformed by singing whales. The gouache drawings have a naive, effective edge.
A fierce and fearless sea captain gets rich harpooning more whales than he can remember--until he hears the whales sing. Daly's folk artstyle illustrations in bright gouache colors set the ocean scene as the old sea captain tells his story to a young lighthouse boy. Both writer and artist are South African; Daly illustrated "The Dove" (1993) by Dianne Stewart. The ecological message here is lyrical, but the story is slight.