The Whale by Philip Hoare

I am currently reading an AMAZING book!  Here are my criteria for declaring a book “amazing” or “awesome” or even “astonishing”:

1. You incessantly talk about the book to anyone who exhibits even the tiniest bit of interest or to any person who is forced to listen to you because they have failed to develop an effective escape plan.

2. You count the minutes until you are able to continue reading. Everything else in your life becomes less important than finishing this particular book.

3. In the case of awesome nonfiction you want to learn everything you can about the topic in the book.  If it’s fiction you search for another story just like it.

The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea by Philip Hoare is one of these books.  However, I must warn you that I don’t think this title is for everyone–it just happens to be, for me, the right book at the right moment for the right reader.

I love whales.  I always have.  [Except for Orcas, which I admire but have a deep-seated fear of, but that’s a topic for another post.]  I remember seeing the belugas at the Coney Island Aquarium and even as a child having conflicting feelings about how fascinating it was to see them in person, but how awfully sad they looked in the dilapidated tank with the thick glass covered in dirty hand prints.

Like many children my favorite part of the Museum of Natural History was the enormous blue whale.  Looking at it suspended above me made me feel the same way looking at the ocean always has, like I am a tiny, but integral piece of this amazing (and enormous) natural world.

The Whale is equal parts memoir and informational text that discusses the part whales occupy in history, science and culture.  The writing is beautiful and the author is obviously as awestruck by these incredible creatures as I have always been.

If you love whales or if you’re looking for a new topic to explore–here are some of my favorite whale-centered books & films:

Billy Twitters and His Big Blue Whale Problem by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex.  I love Adam Rex’s illustrations and this book goes above and beyond his usual playful style.  Barnett writes a wonderfully ridiculous story about a boy named Billy Twitters and his new pet, which happens to be a blue whale.

Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera is a beautiful story about a young Maori girl who develops a special bond with whales, especially the bull whale whose legendary rider was her ancestor.  It goes against my nature as a librarian, but I have to admit that as much as I like this book I LOVE the movie.

Browse through the 599.5’s for informational books about whales.

What was the last right book at the right moment in your life?

~Tricia is the teen librarian at CPL and has 13 more minutes of work before she can go home and finish reading The Whale.