The Storm Whale

Overview

Every day, in a house by the sea, a little boy watches his father leave for a long day's work. One night, a great storm washes a small whale onto the beach. The boy discovers the whale is a good listener. The father discovers the boy is lonely. Together, they return the whale to the sea. And from that day on, the boy learns that the father can be a good listener too, in Benji Davies's heartwarming tale, The Storm Whale.

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Overview

Every day, in a house by the sea, a little boy watches his father leave for a long day's work. One night, a great storm washes a small whale onto the beach. The boy discovers the whale is a good listener. The father discovers the boy is lonely. Together, they return the whale to the sea. And from that day on, the boy learns that the father can be a good listener too, in Benji Davies's heartwarming tale, The Storm Whale.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Maria Russo
…a simple but powerful story about loneliness and the love between a parent and child who don't have much, not even time to spend together…Like the best picture books, The Storm Whale has an outsize emotional force that often comes from what the author-illustrator Benji Davies leaves out. In beautiful, buoyant illustrations, he makes Noi's aloneness literal: Not only is there no mother in sight or even mentioned, there are no other human beings visible in his charmingly ramshackle fishing village…Davies adds tons of whimsical visual detail, but keeps his characters' facial features minimalist—black dots for eyes and the merest lines for noses and mouths—allowing for enormous meaning in clothing, gesture and body language.
Publishers Weekly
★ 06/30/2014
Noi’s father is a fisherman, and when he leaves early every morning, Noi knows “he wouldn’t be home again till dark.” But Noi’s solitary life (with the exception of the family’s six cats) ends when he discovers a baby whale washed up on the beach. He gives the whale a new home in his bathtub, plays it water-themed music (note the album of Handel’s Water Music by the tub), and tells it “stories about life on the island. The whale was an excellent listener.” The whale must go back to the sea, of course, but not before Noi’s father steps outside his grueling routine and recognizes how much his son yearns for companionship. This is a lovely story of familial rapprochement in every respect; in his debut as author, illustrator Davies’s (Railroad Hank) matter-of-fact but deeply empathic storytelling is matched by crisp, evocative scenes of coastal life, from the ramshackle, weathered home where Noi and his father live to the endless expanse of the ocean at night. There’s no big finish or obvious lesson, but the message about the importance of being seen is difficult to miss. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"A quietly affecting and visually striking book." - The Horn Book

"A gentle, atmospheric father and son tale, this will draw kids who appreciate a touch of mysticism and the parent-kid adventure." - BCCB

"Charming." - School Library Journal

*"This imaginative, offbeat and original tale, lightly dusted with believable magic, perfectly captures a generous child's loyalty and dedication and ends with comfort and subtlety . . . A selection children will embrace and come back to time and time again." - Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

STARRED REVIEW: "Deeply empathic storytelling is matched by crisp, evocative scenes of coastal life, from the ramshackle, weathered home where Noi and his father live to the endless expanse of the ocean at night." - Publisher's Weekly

The Horn Book

A quietly affecting and visually striking book.
BCCB

A gentle, atmospheric father and son tale, this will draw kids who appreciate a touch of mysticism and the parent-kid adventure.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Young Noi lives by the sea with six cats and his dad. Every morning his dad leaves to spend the long day working on his fishing boat. One morning, after a great storm, Noi finds a small whale washed up on the shore. Knowing that a whale should not be out of water, he hauls it home on his wagon and puts it in the bathtub. There he tries to make it feel at home until his father returns. Fearing his dad would be angry; Noi tries to keep it a secret. But his dad says they must take the whale back to the sea where he belongs. It is hard for lonely Noi to say goodbye. Each time he and his dad picnic on the beach, he hopes to see the whale again. The contrasting jacket and cover plus the end pages emphasize the dramatic blue of the sea, with the bright yellow contrast of Noi’s and his father’s slickers. Page designs vary; the double pages are particularly striking. The illustrations are naturalistic, with a touch of the comic for Noi and his dad. Empathizing with Noi is unavoidable. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz; Ages 3 to 6.
School Library Journal
08/01/2014
K-Gr 2—Noi lives by the sea with his father and six cats. His dad leaves early for work on his fishing boat and doesn't return until dark. Noi appears to be around six and is extremely lonely until the day he finds a small beached whale. Instead of trying to return it to the water, Noi hefts it into his wagon and puts it in his bathtub. He plays music for it and tells it stories. When his father returns, he discovers the whale, and together they return it to the sea. The man realizes how lonely his son has been, and on last pages, they are seen having a picnic together. The story will be confusing to the target audience. It would appear that the whale is an imaginary friend that Noi has conjured up to stave off his loneliness. Obviously, he would be physically incapable of moving a whale, no matter how small. However, if that's the case, it makes no sense that a father would take a small boy out on at night in a rowboat on choppy seas. The illustrations appear to be watercolor and have some of the charming details found in the work of Barbara Cooney, but this is an additional purchase.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-06-30
The story of a very unusual friendship.Noi lives with his father and six cats in an isolated home by a shining sea. Bright, simple text that sparkles with clarity and quietly dazzling illustrations that have the feel of another time and place describe Noi at home with his feline compatriots as his father goes out to work on a fishing boat. While walking on the shore, Noi discovers a small beached whale and brings his curious new friend home to the family tub with the best possible results. His father isn't angry at all but realizes that Noi has been lonely. As the whale needs to be in water, however, Noi's father rows boy and whale through the stormy ocean until they reach a suitable depth. (Both humans are clad in yellow oilskins and sou'westers.) This imaginative, offbeat and original tale, lightly dusted with believable magic, perfectly captures a generous child's loyalty and dedication and ends with comfort and subtlety. Noi gazes off to sea, an obvious pair of parent-child flukes in the distance, thinking of when he will see his friend again, while his beloved father watches him, clearly enjoying relaxing with his son. Replete with both peaceful charm and a sense of wonder, this is a selection children will embrace and come back to time and time again. (Picture book. 3-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805099676
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 9/30/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 88,222
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Benji Davies is an author, illustrator, and animation director. As a child, he was often found painting at the kitchen table . . . a habit he has continued into adulthood. He lives in London with his wife, Nina.

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