[Nonfiction Wednesday] The Infinite Magnificence of Blue in Jenni Desmond’s “The Blue Whale”

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Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2016 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.

Widget Handcrafted by Iphigene for GatheringBooks.

As I gradually go through the nominated CYBILS titles for Nonfiction in 2015, I am amazed at the range and diversity of the selection – and how more and more creators are now making factual information so accessible to today’s young readers. How wonderful a world it would be if more teachers are aware of this kind of valuable resource and bring them into the hands of wide-eyed kids who would undoubtedly fall in love with them. Here is one such title that simply made me awestruck in all its magnificence.

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The Blue Whale

Written and Illustrated by: Jenni Desmond
Published by: Enchanted Lion Books, 2015
Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I am very seldom awed by nonfiction titles, but this one made me stop and wonder at the sheer magnificence of this intelligent, massive mammal whose very existence – despite its seemingly-worlds-apart from my own – somehow makes this world more magical and awe-inspiring.

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As can be seen in the image above, there is a book-within-a-book, very meta, aspect to this book that appealed to me – as a young boy is shown swimming within the pages of the very same book I am reading. There are a lot of visual clues embedded in each page that adds layers and textures to the text-narrative – from the framed portraits of whales, the colour of a whale’s skin, and their diatoms – one is able to fully explore the depths of a whale’s wonder in a jaunty, off-beat fashion, similar to the young boy’s glee as found below.

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I think what really worked for me with this book is how it provides a scaling of the whale’s colossal size (see image below to have an idea of a whale’s length):

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and appetite: see how much milk a newborn calf (baby whale) drinks – 50 gallons of milk each day!

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And the image that truly caught my eye, pun intended:

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This is an exquisitely-crafted book that should definitely find its way into every classroom library – it manages to infuse the poetry of nature in its strikingly straightforward but fun narrative. And more than anything, it makes one grasp the infinite blue that stretches just way beyond one’s field of imagination – because there is so much more out there.

Here is a short video clip of The Blue Whale that I found on Youtube. Enjoy!

  1. I loved this book, too, Myra, completely enticing. There was an incident about one being caught in nets off the southern coast of California, & they worked hard, and dangerously, to free it. Thanks for reminding me about the book.

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  2. I loved the blur of fiction and nonfiction in this book.

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  3. Very cool! I’ll have to check this one out!

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  4. I really love books that help kids visualize concepts in fun ways. As a kid I could never visualize the big numbers that nonfiction books would throw out at me (“52 tonnes” or “52 meters”), so it really to be able to see these numbers brought to life using familiar objects. Most of us will probably never see a blue whale in person, but books like this help us get to know these rare, wonderful creatures. Thanks for sharing this quirky book!

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  5. I really enjoyed this book too. The illustrations are fabulous.

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  6. Whales are such beautiful and interesting creatures! And the illustrations look amazing! Thank you for sharing.

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  7. This is great to read with The Bear Report and Coral Reefs.

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