Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan and illustrated by Jane Tanner is an inviting read aloud book. The book begins with gorgeous illustrations that appear to be sketched, with only the tones of pencil grey. Three sisters celebrate visiting the beach and the language used has you imagining being right there alongside them.
“And the promenade where the children ride
On Shetland ponies, small and strong
when the summer days stretch on and on.”
The fun rhythmic language makes you wanting to read more.
As the story progresses the colour tones used in the illustrations also change. The sisters in the story come across a whale, lay on the beach alone. Will the whale be able to survive? The sisters do their upmost best to keep the whale alive and to add to the struggle a storm begins and the illustrations turn dark. As the sisters reluctantly head back home they cannot stop thinking and dreaming about the stranded whale.
The morning arrives and the illustrations become bright and light. The girls are still thinking about the whale but as they approach the beach and witness the change of the waves being stripped back they cannot see the whale. There is no sign of the whale that only yesterday caused such a stir in its vulnerable state.
Thankfully this is a book with a happy ending. The sisters cannot see the whale but know that it is safe and readers discover through the illustrations that the whale in fact is safe. The whale is free, content and back in the water.
The story ends with happy sisters, side by side on a clear day
“Grand was the day and the sun shone down
When I and my sisters walked to town.”
There is no denying that Sarah Brennan and Jane Tanner have created a beautiful book centered on nature. The poetic text used in the book is thoughtful and powerful and would make a fantastic book to unpick in a school setting, not only for the powerful imagery and talented writing of Sarah Brennan but also for what it teaches us about nature, depicted so well in the illustrations of Jane Tanner. It also represents compassion and respect the girls had for nature, doing what they could to keep that whale alive.
Finding a whale stranded on a beach is not something many will have experienced but this picture book opens your eyes to how it can happen. The poor whale experienced so much anxiety and emotion. The language and colours of the illustrations depict those darker moments questioning whether or not it would survive.
For young ones, like my three year old daughter, the language in parts is quite heavy and I will admit whilst reading ahead I did make some alterations. However, the message of the story was not lost and the beauty of a picture book is that you always have the pictures to tell you the story also.
This is a powerful, emotive read and will definitely be a book that is not forgotten.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publishers and Toppsta. All opinions are my own.