Very rarely do I buy picture books just for myself, but there was something magical and seaside-fairytale about this one, The Storm Whale, and so I had to get it.
Stunningly, beautifully and heartbreakingly illustrated by Benji Davies (who wrote the book too), this little story follows young coastal dweller Noi. We peek into his warm and wonderful life and how he spends his spare time when his fisherman father is out on his boat. How he plays on the sand, looks out to sea and tries to stop his six cats from eating his breakfast porridge.
But, it is the discovery of a stranded baby whale which is so impactful on Noi’s life, and how he searches for a way to save the creature, that makes this book so wonderful.
This disturbing discovery – which will make more adults pine for the trouble the whale is in, than their children when they read it with them – elevated the story’s power from playful picture book to a wonderful, caring and educational tale. And it’s where author Benji Davies’ cute and worldly-wise sense of humour shines through in the narrative, showing us how Noi deals with helping the whale (which I won’t explain here as I don’t wish to spoil it).
Suffice to say, it’s a short picture book story, but it was incredibly emotional to read with a great, upbeat message at the end. And, as the illustrations are so wonderfully detailed (try and find all six cats on any of the pages, I dare you!), it’s really great fun taking time on each page to point out Noi’s surroundings and what they mean, as much as it is reading about his interaction with the Storm Whale.