Waiting for the Whales

( 1 )

Overview

In this timeless story set on the West Coast, an old man lives alone on a bluff overlooking the sea and tends his garden. And waits. Only when the whales return each year to the bay in front of his cottage is his loneliness eased. One day, his daughter and her baby return home to live with the old man, bringing a renewed sense of purpose to his life. As his granddaughter grows, the old man passes on a wealth or knowledge and wisdom as well as his passion for the whales. And each year they wait together for the ...

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Overview

In this timeless story set on the West Coast, an old man lives alone on a bluff overlooking the sea and tends his garden. And waits. Only when the whales return each year to the bay in front of his cottage is his loneliness eased. One day, his daughter and her baby return home to live with the old man, bringing a renewed sense of purpose to his life. As his granddaughter grows, the old man passes on a wealth or knowledge and wisdom as well as his passion for the whales. And each year they wait together for the whales to appear. A gentle story that illuminates the unique friendship between grandparent and child, Waiting for the Whales also suggests that aging and death are only part of a greater cycle of rebirth and continuity.

A lonely old man who waits each year to see the orcas swim past his house imparts his love of the whales to his granddaughter.

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Editorial Reviews

Canadian Children's Book Centre Classic Canadian Reading
"This gentle and poignant tale features striking photorealist coloured-pencil artwork."
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Already the winner of the Canadian National Book Award, this luminous picture book--a first effort for both collaborators--tells the simple story of an old man who lives alone in a house overlooking the sea. His life has assumed a cozy regularity to match the seasons: collecting firewood and clams in wintertime; planting his garden in the spring; and, in summer, watching his beloved orca whales swimming by. When his daughter comes to visit one spring with a new infant, the man has someone with whom to share his love of the natural world--especially the whales. Written in precisely cadenced prose, McFarlane's story about thecycles of life--while not a new theme--is so deftly handled that it becomes genuinely moving. (The old man dies, and his daughter comforts the child: ``Don't be sad, sweet girl. Your grandfather's spirit has gone to leap and swim with the whales.'') The meticulousness of Lightburn's pastel drawings perfectly complements this gentle scenario--his use of light and shade, for example, proves remarkable. One drawing in particular, of the old man and his granddaughter examining a small branch in the woods, serves as a compelling portrait of intergenerational love that sums up this book's joyous, life-affirming mood. Ages 4-up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
Across the generations, there is an uncommon connection; love, understanding and the whales. In this story of life cycles, a grandfather in his last years shares his love of the orcas with his granddaughter and a deep friendship develops. Richly colored pencil drawings express the poignancy of the story.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-- In this quiet story, an old man lives simply, gardening, walking in the woods, and waiting for the whales that travel up and down the coast on which he lives. One spring, his daughter and her baby come to live with him. As the child grows, he shares with her his love of whales. After he dies, the girl and her mother carry on the same life, consoled by the thought that he is now with the whales in spirit. The text, although a bit too repetitive, reads smoothly. The lovely colored-pencil drawings, which have a sculptural, formal quality to them, beautifully capture the sense of waiting and stillness. Lightburn is especially skillful in his use of light and shadows, and in depicting mist and ocean spray. He also adds a nice touch with the hat that the grandfather usually wore, which the girl has on her head at the end. An impressive debut for a Canadian author and illustrator. --Kathleen Odean, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780920501962
  • Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2002
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,117,665
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Sheryl McFarlane was born in the Ottawa Valley and was raised in Arizona, but the west coast snatched her heart more than thirty years ago. She is the mother of three wonderful daughters who often appear in her books in disguised form. She is the author of four board books and eight picture books, including: A Pod of Orcas, This is the Dog, Jessie's Island and Waiting for the Whales.

Sheryl's books have won and been short-listed for several readers' choice awards, the Governor General's Award, the IODE Award, the BC Book Prize for Children's Literature, and the Mr. Christie Award. Sheryl has toured with the Peter Gzowski Golf Tournament for Literacy, Save the Children, and The Canada Council. She has judged creative writing for The Writer's Union of Canada, The Canadian Children's Book Centre, and the BC Creative Writers' Grant Program, been a writer in residence in many schools, been involved in many young author programs, and has led children's writing workshops for beginning and established writers.

A former teacher, Sheryl provides professional development in language arts for school districts, Early Childhood Educators, Primary Educator Associations and the International Reading Association. She frequently acts as a consultant for publishers on both educational and trade projects. Her first young adult novel was published in the fall of 2006.

Ron Lightburn's career as a children's book illustrator was launched with his Governor General's Award-winning artwork for Waiting for the Whales in 1991. Since then he has illustrated numerous other bestselling picture books and has become internationally renowned for his sensitive storytelling skills and range of illustration styles.

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Read an Excerpt

The old man watched the pod of orcas leap and breach and smack their tail flukes against the water. And as he stood on the bluff, his heart leapt with the whales below. It seemed to him that there was nothing more wonderful than these great mammals of the sea.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2001

    A Heartfelt story

    This story about the love between a grandfather and his grandchild will touch the hearts of every reader. I had this book read to me in my college children's literature class. I enjoyed this book so much I tracked down a copy of this book, which at the time was out of print.

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