Skip to main content

Whale Shines: An Artistic Tale by Fiona Robinson

Whale Shine: An Artistic Tale is the newest book from author illustrator Fiona Robinson. Robinson is the author and illustrator of one of my favorite books to read out loud from my days as a kid's bookseller, What Animals Really LikeWhat Animals Really Like is the kind of book that kids love - it follows a familiar story path, then diverges wildly and hilariously. Mr Herbert Timberteeth has composed a new song titled "What Animals Really Like," and is on stage and ready to perform it at the start of the book. However, the animal chorus doesn't entirely agree with the lyrics and insert their own instead. 

Whale Shine: An Artistic Tale is more ultimately more poignant than hilarious, Robinson's playfulness and love of language, animals and creativity comes through in this story about a whale who wishes he could be artistic, just like all the entrants in the upcoming art show that he swims across the ocean advertising. Robinson's completely charming story begins most cleverly, "Once upon a tide . . ." The cleverness will keep popping up in little ways throughout this fantastic book, like Mr. Jackson Pollock, curator of the art show. 

The hammerhead shark creates sculptures from shipwrecks, while the eel wriggles in the sand forming artistic patterns and the wrasse changes colors to match his surroundings, using corals as part of his living sculpture for the show. In my favorite spread, the octopus, cuttlefish and giant squid are busy, "trying to scare one another into producing ink for their paintings," as seen below.

Just when the whale is at his lowest, a school of plankton come along and try to cheer him up, insisting that he has special skills, he just needs to find them!

Insisting that he truly has no talent, Whale thanks the plankton but tells them to, "go away before I eat you!" But, and encounter with a school of bioluminescent phytoplankton, the realization that he is one of the few deep sea creatures that gets to emerge from the waves and see the night (or day) sky and some Vincent Van Gogh-type inspiration and a truly awe-inspiring contribution to the art show. 

Of this beautiful moment, Robinson writes, "His giant body was his paintbrush, the plankton his paint, the ocean his canvas." Eloquent and elegant, Whale Shine: An Artistic Tale is just a bit on the odd side, but infinitely memorable and inspirational. Don't be surprised when your kids want their own school of bioluminescent phytoplankton!

 Source: Review Copy

 Other fantastic books from Fiona Robinson

 Robinson also illustrated  The Abominables, written by a favorite of mine, Eva Ibbotson


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…