The seventeen poems Myra Cohen Livingston chose for this book sing of the marine mammal's power and glory. Leonard Everett Fisher's paintings, among his best, portray the mammal's grandeur.
- Jan Lieberman
It's almost a contradiction in terms to use "poetry" and "whales" in the same phrase, but truth is, many a poet has waxed rhapsodic about the strength, beauty and awesome size of this deep-sea giant. The seventeen poems Myra Cohen Livingston chose for If You Ever Meet A Whale sing of the marine mammal's power and glory. In John Ciardi's humorous "Why Noah Praised the Whale," Noah complains about all the hay he has to pitch to feed the elephants while the whale is no trouble at all. X. J. Kennedy's alliterative "The Whales Off Wales," delights us "With walloping tails, the whales off Wales / Whack waves to wicked whitecaps." Leonard Everett Fisher's paintings, among his best, convey the grandeur of this ancient leviathan.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-- This collection of 17 poems by different writers is a whale of a disappointment. Sadly, the only two fair poems are ``Sea Canary'' by Jane Yolen and ``The Whale Ghost'' by Lilian Moore--hardly enough to keep the book afloat. The realistic tempera paintings of the whales are ponderous, static, and lifeless. They seem to be an afterthought, detached from the dense blue-green ocean that appears dull and solid in most of the illustrations. In ``Jack Was Every Inch a Sailor'' there is an error; a ``knot'' is a unit of speed (one nautical mile per hour), so it is incorrect to say ``ninety knots an hour.'' Whales are much grander, more awesome, and awaken more poignant feelings in us than these poems begin to convey. --Barbara Peklo Abrahams, Oneida City Schools, Manlius, NY
In this handsomely illustrated poetry anthology, Livingston offers 17 whale poems, including 5 commissioned for this volume. Fisher's majestic full-color paintings depict the underwater world in deep, cool hues shot with warmer or whiter highlights. His best paintings capture the dark, otherworldly quality of the whales' habitat while making room for the text within the composition. Though the book draws poetry from many sources, including traditional ballads, the Greenland Eskimos, and the Nootka Indians, most of the poems were written by modern American poets. The spacious design, a necessity for displaying such mammoth creatures, is a fine counterpoint to the pithy poems.