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'The Longest Whale Song' is written by the famed author of books for children, Jacqueline Wilson. It is published by Doubleday Childrens. The book was first published in 2010.
The story is written in the, first person, present tense, through the main character, Ella. Her mother is in a coma after giving birth to a baby boy called Samson. Now she's forced to endure living under the sole care of her step-father, someone Ella is not too keen on, and to help look after her new baby brother.
Ella is given a school task to explore whale behaviour. She discovers that whales sing. Ella plays a recording of whale son to her comatose mother. During this traumatic time, baby Samson is the link that may or may not bring the family together.
Jacqueline Wilson is known for tackling emotive and distressing issues and this is another example of her work in this genre.
Reason for purchase:
I have created quite a collection over the years of children's books. I began purchasing Jacqueline Wilson books in around 2003 for a girl that I used to care for after school. She was ten at the time and together we became fans of Wilson's books. Skip ahead a good many years and along came 'The Longest Whale Song' and a new ten year old to look after. I wanted to read this book for myself so this gave me a good excuse to make the purchase.
What I think:
I read this book in one sitting and the ten-year-old over three evenings of staying over. With the protagonist of this book being female, I would recommend this for female readers, as they can probably relate to the main character more.
This is an engaging and emotional read but the ending is utterly disappointing and not up to Wilson's usual high standards. The book felt unfinished and hurried as if to a publisher's deadline. It would be much better for the author to remain true to the high standards of writing so normally within her capability. There needs to be a few more chapters and a slower drawn out conclusion.
I deem this book suitable for nine to ten-year-olds. Too young and children might find the story disturbing. Too old and children will get bored.
What a ten-year-old thinks (my summary of their thoughts):
The beginning is boring because, for example, she doesn't want to know that they used to go around 'Flowerfields' to kill time on a Saturday afternoon whilst waiting for the step-father Jack. There's too much description which she really doesn't care about.
The concept of the whale song is a really good idea in trying to help Ella's mum. The story shouldn't finish where it does. Also this ten-year is bright and did not find the book a challenging read and deemed some of it as being too young for her and the conversations to be 'babyish.' She thinks there are amusing bits but is more moved by the sad parts.
I think this book, at £12.99, costs much too much. Buy for considerably less for the story to be value for money only then will it be worth reading.