|Willa and the whale|
Author: Morris, Chad
Twelve-year-old Willa, grieving the loss of her mother, a renowned marine biologist, discovers she can talk to whales.
|Added Entry - Personal Name:||Brown, Shelly|
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.20
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 510459
Kirkus Reviews (12/15/19)
School Library Journal (+) (03/01/20)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 01/01/2020 Follow a 12-year-old girl as she journeys through a dark tunnel of grief after her mother's unexpected death. Leaving Japan where she and her marine biologist mother lived for three years, Willa is back on her home island off Washington State with her dad and stepmother, but life is hard with tears always near the surface. Her spirits gradually lift, however, once she meets Meg, a humpback whale with whom she can miraculously communicate. Their chats help Willa deal with her sadness and, when combined with several developments—resuming her friendship with Marc (although bumpy at times), joining the swim team, and giving her father (and his new family) a chance—Willa is able to move on without relinquishing the deep love she holds for her mother. Willa begins each chapter with a journal entry about marine life, keeping her connected to her mother, while describing what's happening in her new life. A moving story that presents raw grief and the hope born of healing in a sensitive, realistic manner. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 03/01/2020 Gr 5–8—A tale of grief, mourning, and the power of community to restore one's emotional balance after a tragedy. As Willa's parents navigate a divorce, her mother is offered a professional opportunity to move to Tokyo. Willa is forced to choose between Tupkuk Island and Japan. Sharing her mother's intense love of the ocean and all things related to her career in marine biology, Willa chooses to move and experience a new culture. When Willa's mother unexpectedly dies from a fatal heart condition, Willa finds herself alone and must return to the island. She quickly realizes everything has changed, from the distance she feels between herself and her former friend, Marc, to the intensity of her once calm home. Family life in her old house now consists of a stepmother with three noisy young stepsiblings and one half sibling. On a whale-watching trip with her father, Willa discovers she can talk to a whale named Meg. Over the course of the book, this magical encounter becomes an extended metaphor for the guidance she still needs from her mother, and a manifestation of an emotional goodbye that she is still negotiating. Each chapter opens with fascinating facts on unique marine life that create nonfiction entry points for research. Subplots surrounding Marc's family life, a competitive peer named Lizzy, a beached blue whale, and Willa's unfolding relationship with her father after a three-year absence easily move the plot forward. VERDICT Willa's character offers emotional insight into the layers of grief experienced by someone who loses a parent, and builds empathy in young readers. This must-purchase may challenge readers to keep a dry eye.—Monica Cabarcas, Albemarle High School, Charlottesville, VA - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.