05 June 2009

The Great Rock Whale

by Christine Paice & Wendy O’Malley

Hachette Children’s Books (Lothian). Australian, Picture Book. Softcover rrp $16.99

This is a beautiful picture book which holds a special place in my heart as it is about somewhere firmly fixed in my childhood memories – the Kiama Blowhole.

The story is one of hope, belonging and family, based on the annual migratory paths of whales such as the Humpback and the Southern Right.

The Great Whale begins his journey in the icy seas of the Antarctic, travelling up the eastern coast of Australia as he searches for his family. He calls and calls but no-one answers. Eventually he settles beneath the cliffs of Kiama. Time works its magic and the sad Great Whale finds peace as he turns to stone and becomes one with the land.

When his family finally arrive he cannot move to join them but as each group passes he spurts water into the air in greeting. The Kiama Blowhole is in action.

The pictures are glorious. I wish I had the artistic background to find the words to do them justice. I had no idea there was so much depth in blue and green. Complementing the painted illustrations are small intricate line drawing snapshots. Add the interesting but always readable font and this book is a complete visual package.

I live on the whales’ migratory path and I will never watch them pass by again without recalling the wonderful text and illustrations from The Great Rock Whale.

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