Willa and the Whale
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Willa and the Whale

4.2 (111 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

When her mother dies, twelve-year-old Willa feels lost and alone except when she connects with things her mom loved about the wonders of the ocean as a marine biologist. While on a whale-watching excursion with her dad, who is trying to cheer her up after Willa is sent to live with him and his new family, Willa is alone on one side of the boat when she sees a humpback whale. Her awe and wonderment about this massive and beautiful creature turns to shock when the whale communicates with her, introducing herself as Meg and exchanging small talk. Willa asks if they can talk again, and Meg tells her that if she goes to the edge of the shore and calls out to her, she'll reply. Whales, after all, are very social creatures and communicate by sounds that can travel for miles, underwater. As their friendship develops, Willa views Meg as a trusted confidant who offers sound advice about dealing with a nemesis at school and trying to figure out why her best friend, Mark, is keeping secrets about his family life--all the kinds of talks her mom would normally have with her. She also learns about how similar whales are to humans in caring deeply for their babies, creating communities called "pods," and even singing. When a blue whale washes up on shore and dies, the townspeople jump into action with opinions about what to do with it. Blue whales are the largest animals known to have ever existed, so there is no simple solution. Some are advocating blowing up the whale, some want to cut it up and drag it out to sea, others say let it rot on the obscure beach. Willa is outraged by what she views as inhumane treatment of the deceased whale and vows to do something about it, which is precisely what her mom would have wanted. She knows this is a problem she can't tackle alone, though, and enlists her friends, family, and the City Council to rescue the body of the whale and donate it to the local university where her mom taught for further study and to display the bones. Feeling good about getting her community to band together in service of science and conservation, Willa returns to the shore to tell Meg about her amazing experience. Her joy is tempered with sadness when Meg tells Willa that it is time for her pod to migrate, but it's okay to say goodbye because they will always be connected in a special way in their hearts because they care about each other and showed it by listening and learning about each other. Willa and the Whale is a poignant story about caring and loss and the deep connections that make us human.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 145 x 213 x 30mm | 386g
  • English
  • Illustrations, unspecified
  • 1629727318
  • 9781629727318
  • 1,233,850

Review quote

"A tale of grief, mourning, and the power of community to restore one's emotional balance after a tragedy. On a whale-watching trip with her father, Willa discovers she can talk to a whale named Meg....This magical encounter becomes an extended metaphor for the guidance she still needs from her mother, and a manifestation of an emotional goodbye that she is still negotiating. Each chapter opens with fascinating facts on unique marine life that create nonfiction entry points for research. Willa's character offers emotional insight into the layers of grief experienced by someone who loses a parent, and builds empathy in young readers. This must-purchase may challenge readers to keep a dry eye."-- "School Library Journal, starred review"
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About Chad Morris

Chad Morris grew up wanting to become a professional basketball player or a rock star. Neither of those plans quite panned out, so he wrote and performed sketch comedy while going to college. Now he's a teacher and a writer. Shelly Brown loves to write books for children. In her spare time, she enjoys the theater and traveling. In addition to her five children, she has three chickens and sixty-four Pez dispensers.
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Rating details

111 ratings
4.2 out of 5 stars
5 39% (43)
4 44% (49)
3 16% (18)
2 1% (1)
1 0% (0)
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