Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan and Jane Tanner

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Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan and Jane Tanner

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Anne Thompson
Reviewed by Anne Thompson
Summary: The theme of caring for our world and its endangered animals is told in a lyrical style in this beautifully illustrated and special story. A gorgeous and highly recommended picture book for all ages.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: August 2017
Publisher: Old Barn Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1910646250

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Longlisted for the 2018 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal

This is one of the most beautiful picture books that I have read for a while.

Bleak was the day and the wind whipped down
When I and my sisters walked to town…

So begins this story of three sisters who set off to walk to the beach together in this stunning and rather special picture book. The cover illustration is reminiscent of traditional family holidays depicting three girls, hand in hand and wearing sunhats disappearing over sand dunes on their way to the beach. The story then departs from a typical seaside theme as the sisters find a stranded whale on the beach and spend the day in desperate attempts to save it.

The story is told in a poetic style by Sarah Brennan and would be wonderful to read aloud. The use of language is thoughtful and engrossing encouraging the reader to slow down and look at the sumptuous illustrations that accompany the story. The use of rhythm and alliteration and the choice of vocabulary convey the movement and sound of the sea and the wind so aptly that you do honestly start to feel that you are there alongside the girls. I kept going back and rereading and found it almost impossible not to read parts aloud, even to myself! The illustrations by award-winning illustrator, Jane Tanner, are frankly worthy of appreciation for their own sake but working together with the text they bring the story to life and provide a way for younger children to connect with the girls in the story too. The sisters are so real in their appearance and behaviour that it adds to the emotional pull of the story. Some of the illustrations are at ground level, close up to the giant whale alongside the children showing their expressions as they change from joy and excitement to anxiety and fear. Others are viewed from high in the sky with the gulls swirling above and these emphasise the scale of the setting and the fact that the girls are all alone.

The use of colour is well done too. At the start the illustrations are pencil sketches with expanses of white page and as the girls discover the whale the blues and greys flood in capturing both the sea and the giant animal on the page. The most surprising illustration is the one depicting the girls back at home after their emotional day. The warmth and light is so unexpected as you turn the page that it is breath taking in its impact. The security and care of home and family is beautifully captured. This book does, thank goodness, have a happy ending and it also conveys a very important message. However it never feels that it is preaching or teaching that message. It tells a story, but a story that makes you think and care and in that way the message is passed on. This book would be wonderful for children of all ages and would be a valuable addition to school classrooms too. It is simply gorgeous.

Thank you to the publishers for providing this review copy.

If younger children would like to learn more about life in our oceans Sue recommends Lift-the-Flap and Colour: Ocean by Alice Bowsher I also enjoyed Lots – The Diversity of Life on Earth by Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton which is a another beautifully illustrated book celebrating our natural world.

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Buy Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan and Jane Tanner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan and Jane Tanner at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan and Jane Tanner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan and Jane Tanner at


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