The Birth of a Whale

The Birth of a Whale

by John Archambault, Janet Skiles

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Rich in language, cadence, and repetition as well as accurate scientific detail, this is a story beautifully told and illustrated.


Rich in language, cadence, and repetition as well as accurate scientific detail, this is a story beautifully told and illustrated.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 2A poetic text describes birth-related activities of the humpback whale. Discussed in human terms, the animals dance and caress, and mother and child form a close bond. The repetitive verse"...the deep water dark,/the deep water dark,/ singing, dancing/ in the deep water dark"is soothing and lullabylike as it links the creatures' activities to their life underwater. The language is sometimes cliched, however, and the rhythm of the verses is not always evident. The male is described as singing to the female giving birth, and the newborn's first breath is portrayed as a frantic, dramatic moment and is the climax of the story. Not as focused upon events leading up to and including the birth, the text is unbalanced in both its poetry and fact-giving. Clear, full-color illustrations show the whales active in their habitat, with almost human expressions in their eyes. Dorothy Hinshaw Patent's Humpback Whales (Holiday, 1989) and Helen Roney Sattler's Whales (Lothrop, 1987; o.p.) give more of a sense of the drama of the life of these marine mammals and the strong connection between mother and calf. Archambault's title hints at their majestic grace, but somehow misses their awesome grandeur.Frances E. Millhouser, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Archambault (Counting Sheep, 1989, not reviewed, etc.) writes brief verse about the birth of a humpback whale that makes a usually majestic event somewhat trite and even boring. "A humpback whale sings its song, diving deep through the deep water dark./The deep water dark, the deep water dark, singing, dancing in the deep water dark." The refrain and accompanying illustration are repeated seven times during the course of the book, adding length but little content. The words are never compelling as poetry, and there aren't enough facts to compete with other books on the humpback whale. The illustrated spreads in washed shades of aqua and deep blue are accurate but not very engaging.

Product Details

Silver Burdett Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.25(w) x 10.99(h) x 0.21(d)
Age Range:
6 - 7 Years

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