In the icy waters of the Pacific, a massive humpback whale unexpectedly finds herself tangled in a net abandoned by fishermen. When a rescue boat and a convoy of divers arrive to help the struggling humpback, a realistic and moving encounter bridges the human and aquatic worlds.
Preschool-Grade 3. Based on an event that took place near San Francisco in 2005, this picture book depicts a humpback whale swimming, diving, and feeding freely until she becomes entangled in abandoned, drifting nets. Her struggles draw the ropes tighter until, trapped, she stops and lies still. Boats bring rescuers to the scene. Five divers cut the lines, one by one, until the whale can swim again. “She moves among the cheering rescuers, softly nudging each one, as if saying thanks.” The whale breaches and swims away. In Minor’s beautifully composed gouache paintings, the whale is a silent but enormously empathetic character. Several appended pages offer more information about the actual event, whale rescues in general, and humpback whales in particular. Adults reading the book aloud may want to introduce words such as spyhop, lobtail, fluke, and krill before beginning, to avoid breaking the cadence of the writing once the story is underway. Like the stately illustrations, the precise prose has a dignity that is worthy of its subject and unusual in a picture book for preschool and primary-grade children. Although the episode of the whale’s entrapment and release is short, it will linger in young listeners’ minds long after the book is closed.