Walk of the Whales by Nick Bland
When all of the whales in the ocean leave their home to walk around on land, people don’t quite know what to think. But soon shopkeepers go out of business, farms are flooded with water and salt, and people shout horrible, anti-whale words. That is, until, a smart little girl decides to ask the whales what everyone can do to help.
I fell in love with this book before I even knew it was Notable.
I saw the name Nick Bland and grabbed it as soon as it showed up to be added to the collection and read it. It’s perfect. I was going to take it to a Nature Storytime Walk in January that I do with the City of Cockburn Sustainability team but for a few reasons I wasn’t able to. But…that meant I was able to take it to the one I did this week on Monday. It was a hit.
The book has lots of things going for it, the beautiful illustrations, the rhyming text, the simple text that delivers a whomping message.
On the surface the book is all about us (humans) not caring for the oceans. It’s hit it on the head; we don’t do enough. There is more we could all do to protect something that covers 70% of the Earth and is home to amazing flora and fauna. But, it’s more than just that. It also delves into the way we treat change, the unknown, things we don’t like, prejudice, hate, and how important it is to talk to someone to find out why they are doing something, what they need and how our behaviour impacts on them.
The whales come out of the ocean and onto land. The world we live in isn’t designed for them so there are issues (broken pavement, deflated tyres, changes to farming habits) and because of this there is hate directed at the whales, terrible things are written and said (we as adults can understand what this might be but it’s couched only as ‘horrible, anti-whale words’). But no one, until one small girl, thinks to just talk to the whales and ask why. Well, you see, of course, they had to escape the ocean because we had made it unliveable. It was our fault they had come onto the land, and we were the cause of our own anguish and anger. But, and this is important…but, because humans can also be amazing, and caring, and love the world around them, they clean up the oceans for the whales. Now, whales can’t come on land but perhaps we should think about the messages in this story and think about how our actions are impacting the world around us.
I want to read this book to absolutely everyone and I hope lots of teachers have found it. You could use this book to start looking at what is farmed, where and why and look at the decisions behind that. You could use this book to talk about pollution, sustainability, the circular economy (and lack thereof), whale/mammal biology, and more besides. And it could most especially be used to talk about the power of the way children look at the world and the power that is invested in asking questions. Children ask lots of questions, some parents/people might even say sometimes too many but there is so much power in actually going out and finding out for yourself why things happen and what things mean.
I think this should definitely have won the award, but at least it won the Shadow Judging.
I give it 11/10 (one more than ten), and encourage everyone to read it.