Song for a Whale

Song for a Whale

by Lynne Kelly

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524770235
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 02/05/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 60,016
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 2.20(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Lynne Kelly has always loved reading, but while working as a special education teacher, she fell in love with children's literature all over again. She lives in Houston, Texas, and works as a sign language interpreter while writing books for kids. Her first book, Chained, was a South Asia Book Award Honor and Crystal Kite Award winner. Song for a Whale is her second novel. Find her online at http://lynnekellybooks.com/wordpress and on Twitter at @LynneKelly.

Read an Excerpt

Until last summer I thought the only thing I had in common with that whale on the beach was a name.

 

I sat with Grandpa after collecting shells and driftwood scattered along the shore, and wildflowers from the dunes. The shells and driftwood were for Grandma, and the flowers were for the whale. Grandpa had asked how school was going, and I told him it was the same, which wasn’t good. I’d been at that school for two years and still felt like the new kid.

 

Grandpa patted the sand next to him. “Did you know she was probably deaf too?” he signed.

 

I didn’t have to ask who he meant. The whale had been buried there for eleven years, and my parents had told me enough times about what happened that day.

 

I shook my head. I hadn’t known that, and I didn’t know why Grandpa was changing the subject. Maybe he didn’t know what to tell me anymore about school.

 

The whale had beached herself the same day I was born. When she was spotted in the shallow waters of the Gulf, some people stood on the shore and watched her approach. My grandma ran into the cold February water and tried to push her away from land, as if she could make a forty-ton animal change her mind about where she wanted to go. That was really dangerous. Even though the whale was weak by then, one good whack with a tail or flipper could have knocked Grandma out. I don’t know what I would’ve done--jumped in like she did or just stood there.

 

“She wasn’t born deaf like we were,” Grandpa continued. “The scientists who studied her said it had just happened. Maybe she’d been swimming near an explosion from an oil rig or a bomb test.”

 

When Grandpa told a story, I saw it as clearly as if it were happening right there in front of me. His signing hands showed me the whale in an ocean that suddenly went quiet, swimming over there, over there, over there, trying to find the sounds again. Maybe that was why she’d been there on our Gulf of Mexico beach instead of in deep ocean waters where she belonged. Sei whales didn’t swim so close to shore. Only her, on that day.

 

“A whale can’t find its way through a world without sound,” Grandpa added. “The ocean is dark, and it covers most of the earth, and whales live in all of it. The sounds guide them through that, and they talk to one another across oceans.”

 

With the familiar sounds of the ocean gone, the whale was lost in her new silent world. A rescue group came to the beach and tried to save the whale, and they called her Iris. Grandma asked my parents to give the name to me, too, since I’d entered the world as the whale was leaving it.

 

After the marine biologists learned all they could from her, she was buried right there on the beach, along with the unanswered questions about what had brought her to that shore.

 

We lived on that coast until the summer after second grade, when my family moved to Houston for my dad’s new job. Since then, we went back just once or twice a summer. The good thing about our new home was that it was closer to my grandparents. I liked being able to spend more time with them, especially since they were both Deaf like me. But we all missed the beach, and I missed being around kids like me. My old school had just a few Deaf kids, but that was enough. We had our classes together, and we had one another.

 

“But it’s different for us,” Grandpa signed. “Out here, there’s more light, and all we need is our own small space to feel at home. Sometimes it takes time to figure things out. But you’ll do it. You’ll find your way.”

 

I wish I’d asked him then how long that would take.

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Song for a Whale 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
SkyeWright 11 days ago
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher I was able to read this book in exchange for an honest review. ***** Iris struggles to connect with those around her, born deaf she is lucky enough to be able to communicate with her grandparents, mother and older brother (her dad struggles with connecting with her) but Iris feels isolated. In a world with so much sound her inability to give “voice” to her thoughts is frustrating especially as she uses ASL and people can turn their backs on her when she’s trying to communicate with them (can’t even imagine how frustrating that’d get). One day in science class Iris’ teacher shows a documentary about a whale, Blue 55, that sings at a different pitch then other whales and is lonely in his isolation and inability to communicate with the other whales around it. Iris is enthralled and soon sets off on an adventure with her grandma to not only meet the whale, but also to share Blue 55’s song back with him to let him know someone heard him. Song for a Whale is a beautiful and slightly heartbreaking story and Iris is brave and strong and so resilient. She embraces her deafness and doesn’t want to be “cured” of it, she just wants to be better understood. This story is amazing and I love Iris and miss Blue 55 already.
SkyeWright 11 days ago
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher I was able to read this book in exchange for an honest review. ***** Iris struggles to connect with those around her, born deaf she is lucky enough to be able to communicate with her grandparents, mother and older brother (her dad struggles with connecting with her) but Iris feels isolated. In a world with so much sound her inability to give “voice” to her thoughts is frustrating especially as she uses ASL and people can turn their backs on her when she’s trying to communicate with them (can’t even imagine how frustrating that’d get). One day in science class Iris’ teacher shows a documentary about a whale, Blue 55, that sings at a different pitch then other whales and is lonely in his isolation and inability to communicate with the other whales around it. Iris is enthralled and soon sets off on an adventure with her grandma to not only meet the whale, but also to share Blue 55’s song back with him to let him know someone heard him. Song for a Whale is a beautiful and slightly heartbreaking story and Iris is brave and strong and so resilient. She embraces her deafness and doesn’t want to be “cured” of it, she just wants to be better understood. This story is amazing and I love Iris and miss Blue 55 already.
Holly 16 days ago
If you are looking for a heart-warming tale that will bring tears to your eyes, this is the book for you! Twelve year old Iris is deaf and a tech genius but everyone around her treat her like she isn't smart at all. Being in a school that no one understands her or wants to learn sign language, Iris feels alone until a movie being shown at school about a whale who is like Iris in many ways, Blue 55 is unable to speak to other whales due to him having a different song than normal whales. It makes Iris want to make him a song that only Blue 55 can hear but no one in her family understands her reason until her deaf grandmother makes the simple suggestion of taking a little trip. As Iris travels more than 3,000 miles, nothing about this trip is easy nor will the end result will be what she wanted it to be. Until Iris makes that decision to do what she wants that will end in that heart-warming finale that will make you proud of Iris for what she did in order to make her dream come true! I loved the detail that this Author spent on Iris and what she had to deal with being deaf including her love of radios that she can still hear through the vibrations that they make. It's how she was able to make that song that lead to that amazing ending! It was sad to see that even her own dad didn't learn much sign language to be able to communicate with his own daughter, the sad thing is that really happens in real life as well. That part kinda sucked about this book but having a strong willed girl like Iris just made this book good to the part that she did what she did in order for Blue 55 to hear his song in the end! Let's just say that this was a good read with a subject that is easy to set up for discussion with your kids of what would you do different and how would you deal with being deaf. Thank You to Lynne Kelly for this awesome book to bring your experience to the table in a way that made this a good read! I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher!