if you want to see a whale – PPBF book recommendation

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15953632Title: if you want to see a whale

Written by Julie Flogliano,

Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Published by Roaring Book Press, May 2013

Ages: 2-5

Themes: patience, whale-watching



Opening line:

If you want to see a whale                                                                                                    you will need a window.


A story of sweet and simple practical tips on how a child might become an adept whale-watcher and the virtue of the wait!   This includes what you will need, such as time for wondering and an ocean. But the little boy also receives gentle warnings about distractions one might need to avoid, like the lure of sweet pink roses or the temptation to cloud-gaze.

Why I like this book:

Waiting is hard for an adult. For a little child waiting can feel interminable. This soothing, lyrical language, gentle rhythm and perfect pacing make this a great choice for bedtime or a quiet moment in the day. The illustrations and text breathe patience and an invitation to astute observation even for little eyes. Through all of the potential distractions  (even the pirates are alluring) the reader is constantly centered on the clear goal of seeing a whale.

The illustrations are light and filled with wonder and depth. You see the perspective already on the choice on the front cover of making the ocean so high and vast! The dog and bird are also delightful companions to the little boy on each spread. Sometimes I am more drawn to either the words or the pictures in a picture book, in this case, I love both equally. The illustrations are created with pencil and linoleum print techniques, and peppered with humor, whimsy and depth. The last two pages with the barnacle-encrusted whale swimming right under the boy’s boat and then just the tip of the whale emerging are worth the wait and you may wonder if they had been there, ‘unseen’, all along.

This is truly a talented paring of author and illustrator and I will stick my neck out and say I think this picture book may well win some awards.


A predicting activity – if you want to see a (tiger, hawk……) you would need to……. and be careful to avoid…………….

Whale-watching in North America

Whale and Dolphin-watching in Europe


Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books

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27 Responses to if you want to see a whale – PPBF book recommendation

  1. I might have shared the author’s name if my high school crush had shared the same feelings! Haha! This is really a sweet choice!

  2. Going back to buy this book! I absolutely fell on love with it the other day when I went to my wonderful local children’s book store to pick up Bobbi Miller’s newest! Absolutely magical.

  3. I read some buzz about this title before it came out and have looked for it several times at the library over the summer and so far it has always been out! Guess I may have to make a bookstore run because I love Erin Stead’s prior illus work and want to see this book myself.

  4. Laura Renauld says:

    I fell in love with this book as soon as I read it this summer. So glad you shared it here!

  5. There is so much simplicity in the cover. I am so glad you shared so much detail about the language and illustrations. Sounds like a wonderful story about nature and patience. I know how discouraged I got when we did some whale watching in Alaska. We saw so few on a side trip. Great concept for a picture book.

  6. Love, love, LOVE this book!

  7. This looks like a wonderful book, Joanna! My favorite part of the whole review was “that you will need time for wondering”. What a true and magical phrase, and these days sometimes I think kids don’t get enough time for wondering. My grandma told me right before she died that I should always take a little time every day for dreaming. She was very wise. Thanks for this lovely book and the great activities!

  8. I must read this book. I absolutely must. I am currently fascinated with whales and whale-watching, due to one of my writing projects. Your review is perfect, Joanna. Thank you.

  9. I have this book! The story is lovely but I actually bought it for the art. It’s such a calming story and I think that’s a great effect if you’re impatiently waiting for something. 🙂

  10. [fill in blank]
    I want to READ THIS BOOK!!!
    I am going to GET THIS BOOK!!!

    How’d I do? Did I pass the test? 😉

  11. This sounds fabulous, Joanna! My daughter especially is very impatient.

  12. Lovely book and message. Very cute!

  13. I love this book – both for the tale and the art. And, as you mention – it’s about perspective.

  14. Darshana says:

    Loved this book! So glad you reviewed if PPBF.

  15. This sounds lovely and you have intrigued me with the illustrations.

  16. Rhythm says:

    I love this book!! And it’s great fun to do with a group of kids! Nice review! Thanks!

  17. Pingback: The Whale in My Swimming Pool – PPBF | Miss Marple's Musings

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