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The Boy and the Whale
by Michael Moniz
AGES: 4 to 8
SIZE: 8.5 x 7
PRICES: 16.95 US/ 18.95 CAN
HARDCOVER: 978-1-927018-14-9

Nayu's Reading Corner
I didn’t expect to be crying by the time I finished this story. I liked the watercolour illustrations because they added to the dreamy feel of the story, which feels like it should be read at bedtime (or not if you cry over it like me). I wasn’t always keen on some of the illustration lay out: for example the boy was mega lonely and only really saw fish & birds...and yet in one illustration there was a ship but that wasn’t mentioned at all, and the boy’s dream illustration was a little freaky to me.
However, that’s all the not so positive parts of this heartwarming and heartbreaking tale. The way the boy meets the whale for the second time was touching after a dramatic scene which had my fear for the boy’s safety. I ended up crying because it’s sad that he remained on his own for his whole life – I wanted him to see real people and interact with them.  

This IS Literacy - 

The Boy and the Whale, by Toronto author and illustrator Michael Moriz, is a gentle story that celebrates acts of kindness.  Living on an island, a lonely boy finds solace in the ocean.  Nature is his companion as he spends his days fishing and dreaming.  While on the water one day, the young child spots an enormous whale entangled in a net.  He immediately comes to the creature’s aid, and with his small knife releases the whale from the trap.  Weeks later, the boy finds himself in peril when a fish he hooks pulls him from the rocks into the sea and strands him far from shore.  The same whale returns to help, and like an island growing out of the waters, lifts the boy to safety.  Their eyes meet in a touching moment of recognition.

Michael Moniz’s softly-hued watercoloured illustrations show the stark contrast between the small boy adrift alone among the elements and the powerful whale.  Small images of sea creatures, including a starfish, octopus and crab, accent the borders.

There is a pleasing fluidity and rhythm in the text.  Visually, the sentences also roll like waves across the page.  This eloquent, fable-like tale of friendship also lends itself very well to being shared aloud.


Children's Bookwatch-

The Boy and the Whale is a unique illustrated children's story about a boy who lives on a tiny island and loves the ocean and fishing. The boy has no siblings and leads a lonely life on his island, but every day he enjoys boating or fishing or simply watching the ocean and its creatures. One day the boy is out in his boat when he hears a strange cry... a huge whale is caught in a gigantic net. The boy bravely uses his small fishing knife to cut the whale free. Freed, the whale leaps over the boat in the water and swims away with no thank you or good bye. Much later, the boy is lost at sea on a stormy morning, having been dragged from a cliffside by a swordfish who snagged his fishing hook. Hanging on to his fishing pole the boy is dragged far away from land, and all hope of human rescue. What follows is miraculous: the boy is rescued and carried to dry land by the whale, appearing like an island out of the sea. It is indeed the same whale he had rescued earlier. Each creature regards the other, with curiosity and wonder. Then the boy waved goodbye as the whale swam away into teh setting sun. 

The tail of "The Boy and the Whale" is beautifully emphasized both by the fantastically delicate, sensitve water color pastel images and the gently rolling lines of text which give the reader the effect of being on a living ocean. "The Boy and the Whale" is sure to be a loved children's story that adults will also treasure. 


CM Magazine Review - 

The Boy and the Whale is a simple story about a boy who helps a whale free itself from a fishing net and is later rewarded when the whale rescues the boy after he gets dragged out to sea.

internal art     The boy is an independent only child who ventures out onto the sea by himself every day, a situation that creates perfect conditions for adventure. One day, he hears an usual sound and goes to investigate. He finds a thrashing whale trapped in a net. The boy cuts the whale free, and it jumps over his boat and swims away. One stormy day, the boy is dragged out to sea by a large fish while fishing by the shore. He is too exhausted to swim back once the fishing line snaps. His cries for help are drowned by the sounds of the ocean. All of a sudden, he is lifted up and out of the water. The whale returns the boy to shore.

     Young readers will enjoy the adventure and animal-human friendship that are central to the story. Parents and educators will appreciate the age-appropriate language and sweet moral of the story. Adults will also find the story somewhat predictable. The moment the boy frees the whale from the fishing net, it is very obvious that the whale will soon return the favour. While this does not preclude adults from enjoying the story, it might make it harder for this book to compete with some of the more whimsical, inventive picture books.

     The beautiful watercolour illustrations are the highlight of The Boy and the Whale. Moniz exploits the gorgeous colours of the seaside to create soft, inviting images that dominate each page. The light blues of the water and gentle oranges of the sun-filled sky are very appealing. Young readers will not be frightened by the arrival of a massive whale in any of the images as the subdued colours make all of the illustrations delightful.

     Well-used double-page spreads help to convey the size of the whale and the ocean. Moniz wisely uses these large images to communicate the difference in size between the whale and the boy, and the ocean and the boy. Most of the illustrations are framed, with individual sea creatures decorating the white border on each page. There is the occasional full-bleed image which helps to immerse the reader in the scene. It is hard to find any fault with these perfect illustrations.

     The text is curled on the page, almost mimicking the curve of a wave. While this is a nice touch, it competes with the illustrations for attention, particularly during the first reading. It is much less distracting during subsequent readings.

     The Boy and the Whale is a picture book best shared with preschool and early primary students. It will particularly appeal to children who love stories about humans bonding with wild animals or children who love the ocean.




Resource Links –

In Moniz’s new picture book, kindness is returned in an opportune way. When an island boy is out fishing in his boat (perhaps for a meal because he is poor), he rescues a whale that has been caught in a net. A few days later, the whale hears the boy’s cries for help after being pulled into the water by a sailfish. The whale appears to smile as he carries his new friend safely to shore. The book ends with a reminiscence; “As the boy grew into a man, he always remembered how far a little kindness can go, and how big a friend you can make along the way.” Soft, watercolour illustrations include close-ups of the grey whale and sunny lighthouse views from the shore. As the waves and the clouds twirl with a similar intensity, fish and gulls give above and below water. The text, which moves up and down like the waves, is decorated with shadows of sea creatures. This book would be dun to share with children who live along the coast or who enjoy activities on the water.

Thematic Links: Loneliness, Friendship; Whale; Sailing; Ocean; Rescue; Fishing; Kindness