- OverDrive Read
- Children's Choices Selection
International Reading Association & The Children's Book Council
April 6, 2015
Atkinson debuts with a moody but reassuring story about a boy who feels invisible until he befriends Sam, a lost whale. No Free Willy–style orca, the whale that Tim discovers outside his school one rainy day is a hulking sea-green behemoth. While Atkinson hits the story’s themes of loneliness and friendship a bit hard (“The other kids were too busy to notice the big blue whale. Sometimes Tim felt no one noticed him either”), his illustrations—and their eye-popping marigold and teal palette—will make readers sit up and take notice. In a vibrant orange raincoat, Tim is a spot of bright color amid the torrential downpours of his neighborhood; indoor scenes are colored in golden hues, creating an intense warmth that echoes Tim’s rising spirits as he debates how to transport Sam to the sea. His solution—pulling Sam behind his bicycle—leads to a frightening climax in which Tim nearly drowns, but the whale mounts a quick rescue, and a sunny closing scene suggests that Tim’s next friend might be human, not cetacean. Ages 3–5.
March 15, 2015
Tim finds a whale beached on a street adjacent to his school and vows to help his new friend get back to the sea. The amorphous, sluglike whale, Sam, is simply stuck and as shockingly invisible to others as Tim is. The whale's hugeness captures the heft and burden of Tim's own inexplicable loneliness. Readers first see Tim standing alone in pouring rain, his face obscured by a dripping hoodie and his need for a friend plain. Sam's massive body, a murky emerald green, often entirely fills the page, making him difficult to discern. His round eyes, however, deliver remarkably acute information about his worry and salty homesickness. Tim's earnest promise to get Sam back to the ocean brightens this book of dark double-page spreads, done in deep blues and greens from the very bottom of the sea. Beaming tangerines highlight all the words and people in this friendship tale, buoying every inky illustration. Children will cheer as Tim ties Sam to a rope behind his bike and pulls and pedals and huffs and puffs him all the way to a seaside cliff...and over! A whale's tale that dives deep and surfaces with useful lessons about making, keeping, and helping friends. (Picture book. 2-6)
May 1, 2015
PreS-Gr 2-Tim is on his way home from school one rainy, dark day when he meets Sam, a big blue whale who made a wrong turn and got stuck in his neighborhood. It's very dark, and the other kids in the neighborhood can't see Sam. Indeed, he is virtually hidden on the pages, deep sea green against a dark blue-black background. Sam is metaphorically a fish out of water, and so is Tim. Sometimes the boy feels like no one notices him. But seeing each other, "they both felt better knowing they weren't invisible," and they become friends. Tim brings Sam some water and promises to help him get back to the sea. It takes lots of planning, but Tim is determined to help because "friends don't let friends down." After reviewing the plans together, they decide to use Tim's bike to tug Sam back to the ocean. It was hard work, but Tim "should not...could not...would not let his friend down." Ultimately, Tim is successful, splashing and crashing deep into the ocean. Sam is nowhere to be seen, but only for a moment. He returns to Tim, now safe on a buoy, and delivers a friendly kiss because "friends don't let friends down." In the last scene, there is a pictorial hint that Tim will be making a new (human) friend as he comes ashore. In addition, the mood of the illustrations changes from dark and moody to sunshine bright. The cartoonlike pictures are rendered in acrylics with digital enhancement, primarily in dark greens and oranges until the final panels. VERDICT An unusual and appealing story about friendship, though better suited for larger collections.-Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA
Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
PublisherDisney Book Group
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