Little Whale by Jo Weaver
It begins south of the equator. A mother gray whale senses that it is time to leave the shelter of warm waters and migrate to northern feeding grounds. Her young calf accompanies her for the first time. The journey is filled with wonders as well as dangers: a coral reef, schools of shimmering fish, passing ships, and sharks,
Realistic physical representation of these noble creatures dovetails nicely with the anthropomorphic elements. Readers young and old can relate to the calf’s repeated query “Are we nearly there?” The protective and loving relationship of a mother for her child is reinforced throughout the text. Migration patterns, an exploration of deep-water life, and a gentle reminder of parental love are all brought to life through gorgeous expressive art.
There are so many reasons to love Little Whale. Illustrations features cool, steely shades of blue. A monochromatic pallet is a brilliant decision. Whales are an integral part of ocean life and fit naturally in the beauty and terror that lies in deep waters.
Weaver's principal medium is charcoal. This could be an excellent opportunity to introduce the technique to youngsters. Use large sheets of paper so that students have plenty of space to work. Compressed charcoal or charcoal pencils are sturdier than vine charcoal. Warning: charcoal can be messy. Provide clothing cover-ups and plan for washing hands after the art session.
Bonus: Illustration Workshop
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Jo Weaver shares the process for creating her illustrations for the picture book Little One.
After reading Little Whale, view live footage of an encounter with gray whales. A close-up look at these mammals is fascinating and informative.
Inspiration for young researchers and artists.
Science meets art.