Children & Young Adult Books:

The Whales' Song (Kate Greenaway Medal Winner)


Paperback / softback

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The Whales' Song (Kate Greenaway Medal Winner) by Dyan Sheldon
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"Poignant, sensitive, beautiful book"
5 stars"

A beautiful, sensitively illustrated book, telling a lovely story – a great book for children who love beauty and thoughtful story lines.


Enthralled by her grandmother's story of seeing and hearing whales singing in the sea long ago, Lilly hopes to see them herself and to hear their mysterious songs.


Winner of Kate Greenaway Medal 1990.

Critical Reviews:

Publishers Weekly In this haunting, evocative picture book, Lilly's grandmother tells her that, when she was young, she used to leave gifts for the whales--``a perfect shell. Or a beautiful stone. And if they liked you, the whales would take your gift and give you something in return.'' Lilly's great-uncle Frederick claims that the story is ``nothing but a silly old tale,'' that she shouldn't ``be dreaming her life away.'' But one morning, Lilly, believing her grandmother's claim that ``they were the most wondrous creatures you could ever imagine,'' drops a yellow flower into the water. `` `This is for you,' she called into the air,'' and later that night she sits waiting, like a mermaid on a rock, finally receiving a gift in return. Filling the night with their song, the whales call Lilly's name. Infused with the cadences of real speech, Sheldon's poetic text manages to overlay a homespun practicality with an ethereal, fairy-tale magic. The unique grandeur and beauty of these creatures, ``as peaceful as the moon,'' are compellingly interwoven throughout the narrative. Newcomer Blythe's paintings are extraordinary. The play of light and shadow in his cozy interiors is delicately balanced against stunningly realistic faces--Lilly's purity and innocence, her elders' splendidly craggy countenances. Rendered in unusual perspectives, these vibrant panoramas of the sea and of the whales leaping from the moonlit water possess a rare luminosity and beauty that should not be missed.
Release date NZ
September 16th, 1993
Illustrated by Gary Blythe
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Red Fox
Product ID

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