Whale Boy by Nicola Davies is a wonderfully lyrical, atmospheric tome from the hands of an author whose passion for animals, and conservation comes across in all that she does.
Davies’ narrative focuses on Michael, a young boy growing up in the small town named Liberty, set upon the tropical island of Rose Town. Michael longs to re capture the days spent with his father, sailing out on the open seas – ‘That sliver of blue was like a promise’. It’s been three years, and he feels like the sea is ‘waiting for him’.
To Michael the sea represents freedom.
Michael is keen to unlock the secrets of the ocean. His father has told him that the whales had been ‘hunted out around the island long ago,’ however Michael can’t help but hope and dream that the whales could ‘still be hidden somewhere’. He is not the only one.
An Englishman named Spargo with ‘a knife edge glitter to his eyes’ is behind the company who plans to ‘revitalise’ the town. He approaches Michael with an offer which is difficult to refuse. Davies deftly captures the passion and yearning of her protagonist so acutely, that it comes as no surprise when he jumps on the chance of a boat of his own ….. even though ‘the whole thing stank.’
The catch? Michael must record precise details of every dolphin and whale he finds.
At this point in the narrative Davies launches into a plot that has many twists and turns, as Michael realises too late that Spargo’s intentions are far from honourable.
Davies writing comes to life as she captures the moments Michael and the whale share together. Sensitive and almost poetic, she captures both the grace and majestic nature of the whale combined with Michael’s awe and respect … creating some of the best scenes in the novel.
The conclusion is nail biting stuff involving a race against time and some surprising discoveries.
Whale Boy is an intriguing novel for young readers with an interest in animals and adventure.
Whale Boy has been shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2014.