Friday, February 15, 2019

SONG FOR A WHALE by Lynne Kelly



SONG FOR A WHALE by Lynne Kelly (February 5, 2019, Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House, 320 pages, for ages 8 to 12)

Synopsis (from the publisher): From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she's the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she's not very smart. If you've ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.

When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: she should invent a way to "sing" to him! But he's three thousand miles away. How will she play her song for him?

Why I recommend it: Such a touching story! And so beautifully told. I have a young cousin, a social worker, who studied sign language at Gallaudet University (and I'm giving her the hardcover review copy. Thank you, Penguin Random House!). 

All the characters are multi-dimensional, and even the bully has a character arc. But it's the relationship between Iris and her deaf grandmother that really makes this book sing. The way the grandmother sneaks Iris onto the cruise to Alaska, only letting the parents know after Iris and Grandma are on the ship, is downright thrilling. Grandma, of course, has her own reasons for going on a cruise. And the scenes with the whale blew me away. You'll love reading this and you'll cheer for Iris and Blue 55. I'm also most impressed by the way the author, a sign language interpreter, chose to show the sign language dialogue between Iris and her Grandma. It's in italics, so it's easy to differentiate between other characters' spoken dialogue. 

Favorite lines (from p. 132): "Grandpa always wanted to touch a glacier." Grandma didn't turn back to the window, but kept looking right at me. She hadn't done that for a long time.

Lynne Kelly's website



23 comments:

  1. So many appreciations, Joanne. I had seen the deep blue evocative cover & title fly by in social media, but had no idea of the potency of this novel. And the author's deep authentic connection to the topic. I can think of several people who need this, especially our pals at Disability Interest Group in Miami, which lobbies for access for deaf students & others but is also a great resource for the huge South Florida area. Song for a Whale sounds universal, even as it is unique. And with your description, I can see this as a poignant & soaring movie, too. I hope this travels as far as brave & inventive Iris does.

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    1. Oops time!. Disability Independence Group. NOT Disability Interest Group.
      Again, thank you for this great review.

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    2. Thanks, Jan. No worries.

      I love your description of "brave and inventive Iris." And I can also see this as a movie, one that would draw much-needed attention to the world of the Deaf.

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  2. I have been hearing about this book and hope to get to it soon. Thanks for the reminder.

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  3. Gorgeous cover and really cool premise!

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    1. I love the cover too. And the premise is so unusual. Glad to see Deaf people in kidlit.

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  4. Thanks for this review. You whetted my desire to read this book even more now.

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  5. This sounds lovely! Thank you for sharing it. I'm going off to look for it right now!

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  6. oh! I have been hearing about this book - it sounds wonderful!

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    1. Yes, Sue. It really is wonderful. Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. I have this one in my stack of books to read. Your enthusiastic review has me itching to nudge it closer to the top. I'm anxious to compare it to other books with deaf characters.

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    1. Thanks, Greg. I actually haven't read any other books about deaf characters. Please recommend some when you have time. Thanks!

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  8. Thanks for the review. I love the cover and it sounds like an interesting book.

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  9. I'm waiting on this book! It really sounds like a fascinating story. I have a daughter who is hearing impaired, so I'm always looking for books.

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    1. Oh, so this is perfect for you! That's wonderful, Patricia.

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  10. I don't read a lot of MG but this sounds wonderful :)

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    1. And I wouldn't expect you to, Marcy! But thanks for stopping by.

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  11. I have to check out this book. Love the cover and your description made me very intrigued! Sounds like an amazing book. Can't wait to read it and find out what happens. :)
    ~Jess

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