Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan
On a bleak and blustery day three sisters find a stranded whale on the beach. So begins the premise of Storm Whale, a captivating and beautifully illustrated story.
Author Sarah Brennan has created a powerful poetic read, that celebrates the majesty and vulnerability of nature and our place in it. The three sisters battle the elements to save the whale. Together they bucket water on to it and attempt to move it in to deeper water.
Deterred by the driving rain, the sisters must return home for a storm-filled night. The following morning the trio return to the beach to see if their whale friend has survived the night.
With rich vocabulary, Brennan introduces younger readers to a host of new words. The story is almost lyrical, heavy with simile and metaphors. The story is full of emotion, which is perfectly matched by the accompanying pictures.
Illustrator Jane Tanner’s artwork is full of life and movement, bringing the story to life. Her use of colour, it builds in vibrancy and use as the story progresses, is clever and subtle. Her biography states that she loves “working for children and drawing their attention to the natural world in all its awe and wonder”. This is incredibly evident in Storm Whale, with rich detail, emotion and character throughout. Tanner’s use of perspective is superb – one minute a double page spread shows just the whale’s eye, while the next the reader can see the vast expanse of the beach the whale rests on. The powerful energy of the water – both rain and see – is superbly rendered. Her acute observation of both animal and humans, and their environment, is authentic and touching.
Tanner said, in an interview with The Letterpress Project, that for her a successful book needed to “create a sort of energy that breathes life into the characters” while also allowing space for imagination and thoughtfulness.
Together, Tanner and Brennan have created a book that exemplifies that definition of a successful book. It is utterly beautiful and compelling, and will be a true treasure to any child’s bookshelf.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Allen and Unwin, RRP $16.99