Whales on Stilts!

Common Sense Media says

A fun and fantastic fish tale.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Stresses the importance of friendships, plus Lily learns to be the hero of her own story.

Violence & scariness

Lily and her friends are shot at by guards; whales attack using laser-beam eyes; Jasper faces off against the evil enemy and his guards.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book, while silly, does feature solid messages about believing in yourself and loving your friends. There's some violence (whales set fire to houses with their laser-beam eyes, for example), but the bizarre backdrop makes it hard to take seriously.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

Lily discovers that her dad's boss (a human/whale hybrid) is building stilts for whales so they can invade the land. She works with her two best friends to devise a plan to save the day.

Is it any good?


The plot here is fairly thin, but the characters and humorous details will appeal to kids (and parents and sophisticated readers, too). Lily's two friends, for example, are famous: Katie lives in a haunted neighborhood and faces off against zombies and werewolves, while Jasper is a "Boy Technonaut." Both have inspired their own series of books and have fan clubs. Fictional ads for their series' appear among the book's wonderful illustrations.

Readers will laugh out loud at the outlandish plot, Lily's clueless father (who doesn't guess his hooded boss's nature, even after watching him pour brine over his head), and the author's clever asides. It's the silliness that will sell this book. But the book really does have a heart, too: Lily, who "people didn't know was interesting," learns that she really is something special, and the friends work together, standing up for each other to the end.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the unique writing style. What genre would you put this in: science fiction, adventure, humor, coming-of-age? The author talks directly to the reader at times. Does that bother you or do you like it?

Book details

Author:M.T. Anderson
Illustrator:Kurt Cyrus
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:April 1, 2005
Number of pages:208
Read aloud:8

This review of Whales on Stilts! was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bydemaion September 15, 2011

One of the most creative, fun books to be read aloud

Excellent story about friends. Superb story to read aloud. All of MT Anderson's books in this series are fantastic reads for pre-teens to senior citizens.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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