One of my very favourite picture books of all time is If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead When I first read this book, I had just spent a week at a summer house waiting to see a whale. I never did. But this book reminded me of how very much I longed for one to pass through the ocean as I gazed out ever so patiently at the water.How I adore this book. I love it because it’s beautiful. It is gentle and calm. It reads like I imagined a whale might move – softly, smoothly and ever so gracefully. But I mostly love it because I really do want to see a whale. It tempts me with the possibility. It lures me with the one day . . . The maybe . . .
Now, I love this book for another most perfect reason. Finally, I have seen my whale. We just spent over a week in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast of B.C and we saw a gray whale just off the beach close to where we were staying. Honestly, I got teary. It was one of the most beautiful experiences in nature I have ever had.
Of course we were not the only ones enamoured with this whale. While we watched from shore, a few small boats watched from closer by.
Two kayakers stopped as well.
Here are my children watching the water for sightings of “our” whale. Every few minutes it would surface to exhale.
I was lucky enough to see this whale on three different occasions and each time I watched it for at least thirty minutes. Once, we saw it in the evening. It was so quiet and the sound of the whale exhaling is something I won’t ever forget.
If you are like me and have had dreams of seeing a whale, here are some more picture books – both fiction and nonfiction that will make you long for the experience even more. I have always been “swoony” about whale illustrations. I suspect this sighting will make me more so.
The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond
Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor
The Eye of the Whale: A Rescue Story by Jennifer O’Connell
Big Blue Whale written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Nick Maland
Here Come the Humpbacks written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Jamie Hogan
Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman Flotsam by David WiesnerJumping Penguins illustrated by Marije Tolman with text by Jesse Goossens
Following Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino
The Storm Whale by Benji Davies
Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs illustrated by Meilo So
The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell
Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex
Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking written by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim
To the Sea by Cale Atkinson
Have you seen a whale in the wild? I would love to hear about it!
Wow! What an amazing experience. And what an amazing group of children’s books. I know and love most of them, but you’ve given me some new titles to check out.Thank you! I’m hoping to add to that collection next spring when Albert Whitman publishes my debut picture book, DARIO AND THE WHALE. DARIO was inspired by the experience of a lifetime – my dog and I met a juvenile North Atlantic right whale just fifteen feet or so off the beach in Provincetown, MA! The whale lifted his head of the water and stared at us! So glad I’m not the only one looking for whales!
I eagerly anticipate your book! Seeing a whale is one of the most beautiful experiences – how wonderful that you captured your experience into a book!
So happy for all of you, Carrie. What a beautiful thing. My granddaughters call their father “Papa”, so Following Papa’s Song is a favorite of theirs. I do love If You Want To See A Whale, too. And others your shared are awesome.
Aren’t we lucky that there are so many gorgeous whale books? It was such an experience Linda!
Last month, I was at Race Point Beach, Provincetown, the hook-tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, watching the seals bob and play in the Atlantic waters – and not venturing in for a swim due to recent shark warnings (wherever seals were!) along the Cape. The late afternoon sun lit up the distant ocean water and against the horizon, a misty spray rose and fell. Perhaps I was watching Cheryl’s whale! An AWESOME sight, for sure!
So beautiful! Must have been amazing. Especially because it was so unexpected!
Yes! That’s exactly where we were. Race Point beach are 630 am. It was misty. My dog and I were walking along the shore – we heard a whoosh. A whale was feeding maybe 15 or 20 feet off shore. The dog barked. The whale raised his head and looked at us. I don’t know was more surprised. Me, the dog or the whale. It was magic.
Well, this sounds like a beach to walk along! To have the whale look at you like that . . . gives me shivers!
Any whale spotting is a magic moment.
Carrie, I loved your post. Two years ago I did a PBL unit on whales with my 2nd graders & fell in love with all cetaceans. I truly appreciate that you & your family had your experience from the shore. I had the pleasure of hearing Erich Hoyt speak (author of A Whale Called Killer) about http://thewhaletrail.org & am grateful for their work encouraging people to view from land. I spent two different weeks on Lopez Island this summer & had my hopeful eyes on the water whenever possible (no sightings).
Our culminating field trip in 2014 was a trip with Island Adventures, out of Anacortes. (A great whale watching company that respectively adheres to all the protection & conservation policies.) This was my first time seeing a whale in the wild (not counting the one time we saw a spray way off shore years ago in Oregon). Several hours out we were honored to see a mother humpback & her calf, who spent probably 15 minutes frolicking within our view. It’s an experience I’ll never forget–truly magical, mystical and seriously impactful. Here is a short slideshow of that day: http://kindbraveandawesome2013.weebly.com/classroom-blog/a-day-well-never-forget
Julie, thank you, thank you, thank you! I LOVED the slideshow! What an experience for your students (and all of the adults!) I am so pleased to see that you chose a company that is so respectful and appreciated that you didn’t move in too close to the whales. I think noisy boats and whales just do not mix. We were very lucky to see this whale so close to shore. That is what is special about gray whales – they do travel so close to the shore!
So glad you got to see your whale! When I lived in New England, I was able to go out on some whale watching trips and always saw whales. I always thought it was neat, but I don’t think I appreciated just how magical it was. I have such a different perspective on most things now in my 40s than I did in my 20s! And If You Want to See a Whale is also one of my favorite PBs. Such writing! Such illustrations!
It is (clearly) one of mine too! I have always wanted to see a whale from our BC shores. So, I am beyond thrilled. It was very magical for me. Just the way that whale moved. Sigh.
Thank you for this list, Carrie. I have to add one of my all-time favourite books – Waiting for the Whales by Sheryl McFarlane and illustrated by Ron Lightburn (Orca, 2002). I’ve read it at least a million times, and will never tire of it. Set in your neck of the woods, too.