Wild Orca – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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Title: Wild Orca, the Oldest, Wisest Whale in the World

Written by: Brenda Peterson

Illustrated by: Wendell Minor

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books, September 2018

Ages: 4-8

Themes: whales, conservation, connection, orcas, wildlife, 



On the longest day of summer light.
Mia waits for Granny to join them for Orca Sing.

Here in the misty and magical Some people collect art.
San Juan Islands, people come together
to sing to the Orcas.


Told from the perspective of young Mia and her family on a whale-watching excursion in the San Juan Islands, here is a moving homage to Granny, the world’s oldest known orca. This intimate and informative story celebrates the importance of respecting and protecting wildlife. It also sheds light on communication and family connections in both human and orca communities, all while answering essential questions about how these intelligent animals live.

Why I like this book:

In February of this year, I had the good fortune to visit an author-illustrator friend of mine, Nina Laden, in her beautiful location on Lummi Island just opposite the San Juan islands in the PNW. We spent quite a bit of time combing the beach while Nina regaled me of her close daily connection with the ocean here. With these recent experiences, reading through Wild Orca, I could hear and smell and see this majestic creature, through the vivid naturalistic paintings by Wendell and the sensory textual journey. 

This is a moving and tangible celebration of Granny, the world’s oldest Orca, who lived to be 105. The story will appeal to all young animal lovers and conservationists, especially those with a passion for our world’s largest mammal. The author’s description of advanced whale communication reminded me vividly of the level of communication possible between elephants, which I talked about when reviewing “Elephant Scientist.”

Make sure you check out Wendell’s cool end papers.


This would be a great text to use in a unit on animal communication, as mentioned above.

It can also be used to help teach onomatopoeia. (Also see my resources tab for further help on this topic.)

Kidzone whale activities.

15 best places to whale watch in the US, when and where to go.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.


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11 Responses to Wild Orca – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. The spread of the map is gorgeous!

  2. Beautiful cover and illustrations! This goes to the top of my list of purchases for my great grandson. He lives along the ocean and has become interested in sea life. Excellent review.

  3. Joanna, I love this cover! I live in the PNW and adore these whales. I have not seen this book yet, but am dying to own it. Guess what’s going on my Christmas list! Thank you so much for featuring it.

  4. gorgeous!! And whales….well, it doesn’t get much better!

  5. gorgeous illustrations. And I love the singing to orcas.

  6. Joanna says:

    I am all for singing to all animals, Sue!

  7. Patricia Nozell says:

    I met Wendell at a CT #kidlit event a few years ago. He is such a talented illustrator! This sounds like a lovely new picture book.

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