Jenni Desmond, The Blue Whale
Published 2015 by Enchanted Lion Books, 48p
The Blue Whale is an amazing book and what makes it special is the captivating blending of scientific facts with a sensitive and warm presentation, leading to an immediate interest of readers in the life of blue whales, “magnificent and intelligent creatures” how Jenni Desmond calls them.
What once used to be considered a monster of the seas, it is now, due to the researches and studies of the marine biologists, seen as a spectacular and intelligent species of animals, a mammal intriguing and fascinating humanity by size, behavior and sagacity. Despite the fact that blue whales are now a protected species, they continue to endure serious threats, so Jenni Desmond undertakes a double position with the book – creating an engaging presentation of the blue whale but also sending a message that is aimed to touch hearts and consciousness and turn the admiration of these beautiful creatures into their protection.
From the early 1900s into the 1960s, blue whales were hunted to near extinction for baleen, oil, blubber, and meat. More than 360,000 whales were killed. In 1966, blue whales became a protected species through a global ban on whale hunting. Nevertheless, blue whales remain few in number and are still threatened by many things, such as collision with ships, destruction of habitat, pollution, and entanglement in commercial fishing gear.
Using the voice of an inquisitive boy, a king over the plush toys in his room who reads the book about the whales, Desmond friendly introduces the scientific facts about the giant creatures, using engaging and accessible comparisons. We find out that a blue whale has the length of a truck, a digger, a boat, a car, a bicycle, a motorcycle, a van and a tractor all lined up, that its real colour is gray but it looks bright blue underwater and that it weighs about the same as a heap of 55 hippopotami.
A blue whale’s heart is the largest of any animal. It is as big as a small car and weighs about 1,300 pounds.
There are further explanations about the senses of the whales (poor eyesight, smell and taste but excellent hearing), their food (35 million krill each day), the babies and their feeding and also interesting facts about behavior and capabilities, especially their famous vocalizations, songs of mating, friendship and alarm.
The information is carefully selected and presented so that the audience’s attention is captured from the beginning and easily kept to the end. The slow tempo of the narrative and the lively illustrations animate readers’ curiosity, engaging them in a story about the magnificence of nature and its wonderful creatures.
Complement The Blue Whale with Mark Laita’s Sea, a stunning collection of sea portraits that illustrate the fascinating world beneath the surface.