“Song For a Whale”
by Lynne Kelly
Middle Grade Fiction
“Blue 55 didn’t have a pod of friends or a family who spoke his language. But he still sang. He was calling and calling, and no one heard him.”
**Spoiler Free** Review:
“Song For a Whale” is written by a sign language interpreter and is the story of a deaf-students connection to a whale singing at 55-hertz, who is believed to not be understood by other whales. Please note that though the whale in this book “Blue 55” is based on a real whale “52 Blue”, the author intentionally changed the name in order to assert that the whale is fictional. “52 Blue'' for a long time was marketed as the “World’s Loneliest Whale'', but in reality other whales can hear him and most likely understand him. Not to mention, blue whales, which “52 Blue” is believed to be, are generally a solitary species. It’s good to keep this in mind because though “Blue 55” is a great metaphor for how the main character feels as a deaf student predominately surrounded by mostly hearing people, it could feel dreadful to think there is a whale out there that is all alone when that is not truly the case.
With all that considered, I highly recommend this book to young and old readers alike. It has some great representation which we can all learn from. There are some places where I feel this book lags just a little and may lose the attention of the intended audience, but if motivated to continue reading the ending is well worth the journey. An overall fabulous, inspiring book.
Full Review *Spoilers*
Please do not encourage anyone to jump in the water with animal wildlife! Though the moment was absolutely stunning and just the most beautiful ending to a wild adventure, it was also not the best advice to give a young person. I know the story was about the profound connection Iris had to this fictional whale, and I am glad she got to have her moment with it, but I do hope guardians/teachers that read this story with young people remind them that jumping into the water with any wildlife can be dangerous for not only yourself but also the animal.
Beyond that this story was truly lovely. I adored the rhyming bits so much. From the first poem that Iris hands to her teacher and is told it doesn’t rhyme and she said that for her it does, to all the poems she created with her grandparents. I had never thought of signed language that way and it’s pretty brilliant.