Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Whale Shines: An Artistic Tale

Robinson, Fiona (Author/Illustrator)
Abrams 2013. 32 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781419708480 (hardcover)
9781613125229 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

dialogue, structures and features

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Skimming across the ocean floor, Whale is advertising “The hugest art show in the deep and briny.” He makes sure the call for entries goes out to all the undersea artists, including Hammerhead, a shark who makes sculptures from shipwrecks, and Eel, whose minimalist lines in the sand “look like they flow forever, like the ocean.” The animals’ artistic tendencies are wryly rooted in biology: the octopus, cuttlefish and giant squid, for instance, are busy “trying to scare each other into producing ink for their paintings.” Whale, meanwhile, is too lubberly to be an artist. He’s just the promoter, until some bioluminescent phytoplankton, pestering him, inspire him to paint with his body through their light. He gets so excited he almost forgets to surface for air, but manages to create a work he calls “Starry Night”—with due credit to the plankton and a more tacit nod to Van Gogh.

The text is simple but playful—“Once upon a tide,” the book begins. Dialogue between the animals is a chatty vernacular written in word bubbles beneath the narrative. The watercolour and pencil illustrations, in deep greens and blues, range from full-page painterly renditions of a small detail, to two-page spreads that suggest the breadth of the sea, to frames reminiscent of graphic novels. The marine artists’ works are silly but thoughtful and the book strikes a balance between art and life lesson.

  •  

    Browse the first few pages and notice how the illustrations are laid out in a panoramic style. Discuss the reasons for and significance of the page orientation.

  •  

    As you read, notice how the characters in the story encourage Whale. Start a class anchor chart of ideas on ways to encourage someone who is feeling down. Continue to add to it after reading.

  •  

    Research bioluminescence. Share your learning by creating a slideshow with images and explanations.

  •  

    Produce a class art show that highlights all of your special talents. Work in groups or alone to create works of art such as photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc.

  •  

    As a group, brainstorm sea vocabulary and start an anchor chart. Add to the list as you read. Add illustrations.

  •  

    As the book is read aloud, notice how the characters in the story encourage Whale. Start a class anchor chart of ideas on ways to encourage someone who is feeling down. Continue to add to it after reading.

  •  

    Discuss the types of artistic talents found in the story (e.g. sculpture, drawing). What artistic talents do your classmates have?

  •  

    Produce a class art show that highlights all of your special talents. Work in groups or alone to create works of art such as photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc. For each project, add a caption card with the artist’s name and project title, the materials used and a short description.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use creativity
  • To use information and communications technologies
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Science and Technology
  • Visual Arts