A Whale of the Wild

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
A Whale of the Wild Book Poster Image
Young orca must grow up fast in exciting nature story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A well-researched, dramatic story narrated by two young orcas, A Whale of the Wild is packed with knowledge about the species, their families, their different cultures (e.g. some eat seals, some don't), and the threats they face from pollution, climate change, earthquakes, and huge motorized shipping vessels.

Positive Messages

Strong messages of family bonds and looking out for each other, respect for other species and the balance of nature. Using your skills to help others, learning from your mistakes and getting past them. A hopeful suggestion that humans and whales might find ways to cooperate as well as coexist.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The extended orca family shares a strong bond of trust and mutual support. Vega is young and impulsive, but also conscientious and mindful of her responsibilities as a future leader, and rises to the occasion when she's left as her small brother's only caregiver. She doesn't always make the right choice, but learns and does better next time.

Violence

A  baby whale dies, and her sister carries her for many miles to a burial spot. A whale gives birth, and the others guard against sharks attracted by blood in the water. Predators eat their prey with glee, though Vega comes to have a bit of empathy. A violent earthquake wreaks havoc on the orcas' world and breaks up Vega's family. There are many dangers, from motorized boats to pollution. In the past, members of Vega's family have been captured and taken away by humans, never to be seen again.

Sex
Language

Occasional matter-of-fact mention of body parts as a mother orca gives birth,  a young orca is pooping blood because he's eaten bad food, and the like.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Whale of the Wild, by Rosanne Parry (A Wolf Called Wander), is the tale of a young orca and her little brother (who take turns telling the story) who live in Alaska's Salish Sea, and who face many perils when an earthquake flings them far from their family and drives them out into the open ocean. There are many dangers, and pollution in their waters. A much-anticipated baby whale dies moments after birth, and her sister carries her many miles to a burial site. Family bonds are strong, and the young narrator learns empathy toward other creatures she'd formerly feared or shunned. The story is packed with detail about marine creatures and their environment,all brought engagingly to life by illustrator Lindsay Moore.

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What's the story?

Living in Alaska's Salish Sea, young orca Vega grows up knowing she will someday be a leader in her family, with lots of responsibility. Like the rest of her pod, she faces many perils. In the past, her aunt and others were captured by humans. Huge motorized ships are everywhere. The polluted waters are affecting their health and keeping away the salmon they need to live. When a huge earthquake wreaks widespread destruction and flings the family apart, Vega must become A WHALE OF THE WILD and head for the open ocean -- something she's always been warned not to do -- to keep her little brother and herself safe.

Is it any good?

This exciting nature adventure is a highly relatable tale of a young orca taking care of her little brother after they're separated from their family by an earthquake. Forced to become A Whale of the Wild as she searches for her pod and tries to protect little Deneb, Vega must quickly grow from happy, curious youngster to strong leader as her world changes. Told alternately by Vega and Deneb, their story brings them many new experiences and unexpected connections -- and Lindsay Moore's lively, graceful illustrations drawn the reader even further into their world.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how orcas and other sea life portrayed in A Whale of the Wild. Does the story lead you to think that whales and humans have experiences and feelings in common, or are they completely different?

  • Have you ever been in an earthquake? What was it like?

  • In human years, Vega's about 11 and Deneb's about 5. If human kids their age suddenly had to fend for themselves after a disaster, how would their story be different or the same?

Book details

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For kids who love animals and science

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