“You have family on land as you do in the sea. . . being a caretaker of the earth begins with taking care of the water that all life depends on.”
About The Whale Child
Shiny is a whale child. One day his mother teaches him about the harm the world’s oceans are facing because of ourcarelessness. Shiny agrees to be turned into a boy by the ocean’s water spirit so that he can visit the land and alert people to the dangers.
He meets Alex, a young Coast Salish girl, who learns from him that the living spirit of water exists in everything – glaciers, rivers, oceans, rain, plants, and all living creatures. Together the two travel the world, confronting the realities of a planet threatened by an uncertain future.
Inspired by Shiny, Alex makes the promise to become a teacher for future generations. She realizes that the timeless Indigenous value of environmental stewardship is needed now more than ever and that we must all stand up on behalf of Mother Earth.
“The spirit of the ocean moves within every drop of water, traveling the globe within the bubbling, rolling waves, within the seafoam on the still surface and down into the deepest trenches carved in the ocean floor…It has chosen you to share this wisdom with the humans, who will be responsible for what happens to the earth” – The Whale Child
The Whale Child is a powerful, beautifully written story that challenges you to examine your community and the impact that you are having on the environment and our oceans with a message that touches both adults and children.
Shiny is born a very special whale, full of kindness, curiosity and an understanding of the world around him. His Mother teaches him not only how to survive but also the importance of the ocean, and how water is the source of life. He is chosen for a very special mission – to turn into a human boy and remind the humans of the impact they are having on the oceans and the consequences this can bring.
Alex is a bright young girl from the Coast Salish people who are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest Coast. Shiny is her brother from the water and he will guide and teach her to remember all of the things that they may have been forgotten.
“Seeing what is bad will make you realize the good you can do. Take one smart step in the right direction and the next will come much easier” – The Whale Child
Shiny and Alex set off on a special journey to see the impact that humans have had on Alex’s home. We see the impact that plastic, pollution, over harvesting has had on Alex’s home and the bigger picture that this has on our earth. The experience is difficult for Alex (and readers!) but so important, and like Shiny tells us, we need to see the bad in order to see all of the good that we can do. Their journey together is short but makes a great impact on young Alex. She is determined to be a champion of the water and share the knowledge that she was shown.
The Whale Child is beautifully written and powerful, I enjoyed reading the book with my son. The story gives you a greater understanding of the world around us, the importance of our oceans and our place in protecting the waters. The book contains beautiful illustrations at key points during the story that help readers understand the messaging of the story. I loved that the authors included at the end of the story the following resources: glossary, student resources (which included information on the indigenous tribes in this region as well as projects that students can complete to enhance their learning) and classroom discussions. The Whale Child is a powerful, beautiful story that all young children (and adults too) should be encouraged to read and discuss both in the classroom and at home. Our youth play an important role in protecting the environment, and this should be encouraged. A definite must read story for youth and adults.
About the Authors
KEITH T. A. EGAWA is a novelist who focuses on both adult and children’s literature. He is a Washington native and a member of the Lummi Indian Nation. Egawa’s extensive experience in the field of child welfare has provided him with both inspiration and insight into his subject matter.
CHENOA T. Y. EGAWA is Coast Salish of the Lummi and S’Klallam Nations of Washington State. She is a medicine woman, singer, writer, illustrator, photographer, and teacher dedicated to bringing healing to our Mother Earth and to people of all origins. She is a voice to bring Native wisdom and perspectives to the world when these teachings are particularly poignant reminders of our shared responsibility to live with respect for ourselves, one another, and all that gives us life.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.