Tale of the Last Whale
Outskirts Press (2022)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (09/2022)
“Tale of the Last Whale” by Julia Irwin, is a children’s book loaded with word fun for both children and adult readers. The book is about homophones, words that sound the same, but may be spelled differently or have different meanings, like “two” and “too”.
The first thing readers will notice and appreciate is the list of homophones covered in the book. Some homophones included in this story are “weak” and “week”, “eight” and “ate” and many more that are fun to read and say. Children will love the rhyming, sing-song nature of the text, which makes for a splendid book to read out loud, or with reading groups in libraries, daycares, or preschools.
The artwork is beautiful and engaging, with bright colors and whimsical renderings. The cute, quirky nature of the images will stimulate young imaginations, and you’ll grow fond of the sea creatures, almost forgetting that you’re being educated about words during this story—and that’s the best kind of learning. This certainly doesn’t come off as an instructional tool, but that’s exactly what it is.
Irwin has a genuine talent for knowing how to tickle the funny bone of young readers, while offering educational value at the same time. The blue whale is adorable, and the boy Sonny is too. Their relationship is sweet and comforting. The entire book sails along like an extended nursery rhyme that you will want to read again and again. This book is definitely a keeper, and one all ages can appreciate and treasure for years to come.
And the blue whale isn’t the only life in the sea. You will find seahorses and a sea cow, so prepare to immerse yourself in this wee universe for a while. You’ll be glad you did. I hope to read this author’s other books, as this one is highly entertaining, holds great educational value, and she seems to have her finger on the pulse of what children, and even adults, love in a book.
If you’re looking to give a preschooler a gorgeously written and illustrated book for a birthday or special occasion, or any other reason, you won’t go wrong with “Tale of the Last Whale” by Julia Irwin.