________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number . . . .June 19, 2015


Wandering Whale Sharks.

Susumu Shingu. Translated by Ann B. Cary & Yasuko Shingu.
Toronto, ON: Owlkids Books, 2015,
48 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-77147-130-5.

Subject Heading:
Whale shark-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

***½ /4


In the full light of the ocean,

Suddenly, an enormous shadow


bringing along a crowd of friends.


internal artThe text is spare, and shades of brilliant blue and shadowy, cross-hatched black are the only colors used throughout Wandering Whale Sharks. On the title page, a first glimpse of the creature, as it appears to swim calmly towards you, gives only a sense of its actual size, shape and character, and sets the tone for the book which focuses on these qualities. With a minimum of words in poetic style, the author/illustrator entices you to observe and experience as he evokes a sense of respect for the whale shark’s world.

The second page offers what the shark sees, a deep blue blanket…“the surface of the sea”. Turn the page to see the sun as it appears to shine through the water. Into the ripples swims the beast, only a dark bulky form. It almost fills the wide space from cover to cover on the next pages, accompanied by a single word— looms — and by now the reader is entranced and ready for the whole animal. It appears like a sleek dark submarine. Alongside comes a school of smaller fish (sardines or bonito, according to the back page information) that hang out close by for safety. Zoom in on suckerfish next— little hitchhikers that feed off tiny parasites on the whale shark’s skin. They’re not even worried about entering its cavernous mouth; that black space fills another double spread. But this is a gentle giant. If the suckerfish get swallowed along with plankton, shellfish and water, they’ll emerge soon enough through the gills as water is expelled. Follow along as they complete the tour, swimming under his balloon-like belly, and over his mountainous back.

internal artShingu’s close-up image of the shark’s snowflake patterned body fills another double spread, luminous in blue and black. Despite its size, its demeanor is gentle enough to allow divers to swim with it (and easy to imagine you are right there too) before it continues its endless leisurely journey through the world’s tropical seas.

In this delightful book, readers are taken along for the calm quiet ride, discovering what little is known about the largest fish on earth. If readers are left with questions, they can check the back page of Wandering Whale Sharks for a few details about this amazing creature that might disappear because of human activity before we really know it.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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