9781426302442_p0_v1_s260x420Perfect Picture Book Friday is back for its THIRD year! (Actually, it started up again last week, when I was participating in Erik’s blog tour.) Although this book is very different to the sort of books I usually share for PPBF, I came across it while doing research for a middle grade novel, and decided the instant I read it that it would be my first PPBF pick of the season.


Title: Face to Face with Whales

Author/Photographers: Flip and Linda Nicklin

Publisher: Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2008

Genre: Picture book, non-fiction

Audience Age: 7 to 10 years

Themes/topics: Whales, endangered animals

Opening Sentences: The first time I slipped into the water with a singing humpback whale, I was not thinking about how it would change my life.

Synopsis: Through photographs and detailed but easily understandable text, the reader learns about whale species, whale interaction with each other and with humans, what it is like for the author to participate in scientific studies of whales in which he gets to spend time in the water with them, photographing and experiencing them, and finally how people, both children and adults, can help preserve these magnificent creatures.

The sentence after the opening sentence I quoted says that the sounds the humpback was making made the author’s bones hum. Can you imagine what an experience that would be?

The photography is stunning, and the text, written in first person, allows the reader to become absorbed in the book, absorbing information almost without realizing it. There are numerous sidebars and explanatory notes as well, which add to the learning experience.

Activities/Resources: There is great information in the last few pages of the book, including a glossary of whale terminology, suggestions of how kids can help in keeping the whales’ environment clear of pollutants, and how they can educate themselves and others. There are suggestions for how to research and plan their own whale-watching adventure, either at an aquarium, or when on vacation at the ocean. There are also links to websites.

Other suggestions: Kids might find it interesting to watch movies (with a parent or other adult) such as the Free Willy series, and then a factual DVD such as National Geographic’s Great Whales  and talk about the differences. (Check your local library for other DVDs about whales to enhance this discussion.)

There are many whaling museums, particularly along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. If it’s not possible to visit one in person (which I highly recommend), some of them have kids’ pages on their websites. Two examples that have kids’ pages are the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum on Long Island, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts. Another whaling museum that I have to mention, although it doesn’t have a kids’ page on its website, is the one I have visited on Long Island, the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum.

Availability: Readily available in paperback or hardcover.

Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”


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