Review: Whale Shines by Fiona Robinson

whale shines

Whale Shines: An Artistic Tale by Fiona Robinson

Published November 5, 2013.

Whale is a living billboard, swimming slowly through the ocean with a poster to advertise the upcoming art show.  Along the way, he passes all sorts of sea creatures creating art.  The hammerhead shark is working on sculptures from sea debris.  Eel is forming lines in the sand.  Octopus, cuttlefish and giant squid were scaring each other to collect their ink.  Whale mutters to himself that he wishes he could make something too.  That’s when the plankton around him tell him to try.  But whale just can’t think of anything that he’d be able to do.  After all, he doesn’t squirt ink, and he can’t slither in the sand.  It’s going to take a lot of creativity and some risk for whale to even try creating art.

Robinson has created a simply gorgeous book here.  Her writing is lovely, slow-paced and languid just like Whale floating by displaying his advertisement.  Whale is a solitary figure in the story, lone and distant from the others.  As he drifts past, he is separate from everyone else.  Robinson successfully manages his transformation from wallflower to fully-engaged artist in a way that rings honest and doesn’t seem rushed.

Her art is lovely, filled with the deep colors of the ocean.  It is green and blue hues that shine.  Popping against those are the bright colors of the creatures and the coral in reds and yellows.  The result is a picture book with stunning visuals that truly evoke life underwater. 

A luminous picture book with glowing underwater scenes, this book will speak to all artists, even those reluctant to reveal themselves.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams Books for Young Readers.