Reviewed by Stella Robbins
This book stands out among books about whales because of its personal, interactive text, its rich, expansive illustrations, and its detailed, scientific information. April Pulley Sayre’s narrative text makes the reader part of the humpback family’s migratory journey. Jamie Hogan’s richly expressive underwater pictures invited me to reach out and mentally touch this watery environment. Sayre’s scientifically researched offset notes practically beg to be included in a unit on sea life, migration, or whales.
Here Come the Humpbacks! invites the reader to journey alongside a mother Humpback and her calf as they migrate from warm Caribbean waters to the New England coast’s rich feeding areas. Each two–page spread includes narrative text and expository text. This marriage of storytelling and fact draws reluctant readers or listeners on a nonstop adventure with the humpback mother/son duo as they travel the beautiful but dangerous migratory journey. The author uses this journey from Caribbean waters to the New England coast to bring to life underwater habitats and native sea life along the way.
There are many reasons this book stands above the rest, but for me it was because of its ease of incorporation into science units. I have already planned to include it in a Fourth Grade Animal Studies unit. This up close and personal narrative of majestic ocean mammals will be the springboard for the study of habitats and mammals. The use of narrative text in combination with scientific fact will be used as an exemplar for a unit on expository writing. The author’s inclusion of scientific information on pollution and other human interferences with humpbacks will be the “springboard” for an opinion piece on whether whale watchers should be allowed near whales.
In conclusion, buy it. The beautiful alliterative text will entrance primary students. The deeply descriptive, touchable art work will captivate elementary students. Middle School readers will find the scientific, fact–based information a must for research. Educators will have a wealth of resources at their fingertips with this invaluable book.
Review posted on 3/11/2013