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The Tale of the Whale

The Tale of the Whale

Published: 4 Mar 2021

Hardback, 32 pages

Recommended for age 3+ and 5+

By Karen Swann

Illustrated by Padmacandra

Published by Scallywag Press

Regular price
£5.90
Sale price
£5.90
Regular price
RRP £7.99
Unit price
per 

A poetic and fantastical tale of friendship, which highlights the distress caused to sea creatures by plastic. A debut by both a talented new author and a talented new illustrator.

'Where land becomes sky and the sky becomes sea,I first saw the whale, and the whale first saw me. And high on the breeze came his sweet-sounding song I've so much to show you if you'll come along'. Come on a magical journey of wonder and discovery from misty seaside shorelines to cold ice-capped seas.

This beautiful tale of friendship between a child and a whale invites us to consider our responsibilities towards the environment and makes a direct plea to end plastic pollution.


Tagged animals , dolphins, whales and sea mammals , environment , green issues , journeys , journeys, travel and transport , oceans , pollution , top pick , whales and wildlife conservation

The Green Issues Primary pack

Easy purchase - add our curated pack to your basket with one click

Green issues is a curated, easy-purchase pack of books to support teaching about a wide range of environmental concerns across the primary years. It includes fiction and nonfiction. This pack is a good choice for boosting your library collection. Individual titles can be purchased.

The KS1 Caring for the Environment pack

Easy purchase - add our curated pack to your basket with one click

  • Clean Up!
  • Leaf
  • The Tale of the Whale
  • A Song of Gladness A story of hope for us and our planet
  • Mining and Deforestation
  • Dave and Greta Make the World Better
  • Jelly-Boy
  • Tidy
  • Protecting the Planet

The Library Boost for 5+ pack

Easy purchase - add our curated pack to your basket with one click

  • The Proudest Blue
  • What About The Tooth Fairy?
  • Pip and Egg
  • The Pirate Mums
  • Can Bears Ski?
  • Never Teach a Stegosaurus to Do Sums
  • The Screen Thief
  • Tiger Walk
  • Mooncat and Me
  • Stella and the Seagull
  • Move, Mr Mountain!
  • Hom
  • Where Is the Dragon?
  • Julian at the Wedding
  • How to Be Cooler than Cool
  • Frog vs Toad
  • Llama Glamarama
  • Splash
  • Gloria's Porridge
  • A Way with Wild Things
  • Too Much Stuff
  • My Day with the Panye
  • The Tale of the Whale
  • Book Hospital
  • Somewhere
  • Firecrackers

The Reduce Reuse Recycle pack

Easy purchase - add our curated pack to your basket with one click

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is a curated, easy-purchase pack of books to support a KS1 topic. You might also be interested in our KS2 pack. Books can be purchased individually.

  • The Tindims of Rubbish Island
  • A Planet Full of Plastic
  • The Tale of the Whale
  • Somebody Swallowed Stanley
  • Fix it Duck
  • The Most Magnificent Thing

Reviewed by Caroline Bradley

The Tale of the Whale is a lyrical joy! ‘Where the land becomes sky, and the sky becomes sea, I first saw the whale…and the whale first saw me.’ From the offset, this story puts man and beast on an equal footing. The story is told from the perspective of the child, but it is the whale’s story. The opening is warm and beautiful, and serene. The sun is rising, and the ‘sweet-sounding song’ of the whale drifts on the breeze towards the girl who is perched on a lighthouse – a symbol of safety and a beacon of light. The whale invites the child into his world and takes her on a magical journey. The imagery in the early pages is playful and positive – the girl and whale share smiles and laughs. They ride on the ‘rocking-horse sea’ and dance with the dolphins.

The relationship between the girl and the whale is completely believable within the magical context. Although the whale communicates with humanistic qualities such as laughing and shrugging, he doesn’t speak, and the girl and creature understand each other completely. The emotions range from joy to sadness as the journey of wonderment turns to shock and despair. The close-up of the girl and whale eye to eye is so emotive, as the reader is prepared to see all kinds of sea creatures in trouble due to the careless disposal of plastic waste.

The illustrations are sublime – colourful yet muted in tone, the monoprint textures have both vibrancy and a softness that makes you want to keep turning the pages. The texture entices you to dive in and join the characters through ‘valleys of sand’ with ‘carpets of colour’. The design moves from framed illustrations to full-page and double-page spreads that bleed to the edges taking the reader from observer to full immersion in the world that has been created. It should come as no surprise to discover that Padmacandra follows a Buddhist life and has made a commitment to do everything ‘in the light of kindness and awareness, with the aim of waking up more and more to the truth of the interconnectedness of all life’. We can see this belief delivered through her art and the subject matter of this story.

The combination of the melodic text, imagery and emotion make a strong connection so that when the call to action is given at the end of the tale, and the reader is invited to help the girl make a difference, it is fully likely that the audience will be 100% on board.

The rhyming format of The Tale of the Whale makes it the perfect read-aloud. The subject matter is the ideal introduction to ocean pollution. It would sit well along with side titles such as Benji DaviesThe Storm Whale, The Tale of a Toothbrush: A Story of Plastic in Our Oceans by M G Leonard or The Brilliant Deep, the story of diver Ken Nedimyer. This doubly delicious debut from both author and illustrator shows great promise. I eagerly await their next collaboration.

Formerly a teacher and Library Advisor, with experience in public, school and university libraries, Caroline is librarian at Elm Green Preparatory School in Essex. Prior to this role she worked for Just Imagine for 10 years working on a variety of projects, including creating content for Reading Gladiators:The Ultimate Book Club and the online bookshop bestbooksforschools.com

The Journeys and Transport set

A collection of children's books on the topic of Journeys and Transport.

The Reduce Reuse Recycle set

Reduce, reuse, recycle is a curated set of books on the topic,  to support the primary curriculum. We have an easy-purchase pack of selected titles on this topic.

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