The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond

Nature is fascinating in itself, but this doesn’t always carry across in non-fiction books that are purportedly written for young children, but which are bogged down by dull text and dry facts. Thankfully, we seem to be in a golden age of picture books, where even non-fiction works are increasingly becoming as readable and aesthetically pleasing as their fiction counterparts — and a shining example of this renaissance is The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond.

The first sign that this is not your average non-fiction book is the illustration on the title page, of a boy sitting on his bed and holding the same book as you are. But it gets better: you get to read it through his eyes. So rather than being pelted with facts, you’re swept along on the boy’s imaginative voyage into the world of the blue whale, where every turn of the page presents a new revelation about this majestic giant of the ocean.

You can really see the thought and effort that went into making the applaudably substantial bites of information meaningful to children, both in terms of the creative analogies — “a single breath of a whale could inflate 2,000 balloons” — as well as the beautiful and humorous illustrations, like the one juxtaposing the spray of the blue whale, and nine 7-year-olds (including the boy, of course) balancing atop each other on a boat — how perfectly delightful!

Gorgeous, educational and accessible, this is a whale of a tale you don’t want to miss.

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