The whale who wanted more by Rachel Bright and Jim Field

cover image

The humour in Field’s illustrations is matched by Bright’s text, brimming with nods to our acquisitive lifestyle and our dissatisfaction with what we accumulate.

The whale, Humphrey wanders the ocean spying things he thinks he needs to collect. Each new day brings a new want as those collected yesterday loose their shine. One day he comes to a fabulous reef, full of marvellous things and brimming with an array of fish and coral, creatures and a mass of flotsam and jetsam that speak to him.

The reef creatures are too busy bickering to notice the danger overhead even though the tiny crab, Crystal keeps warning them. As Humphrey dives down to take, Crystal calls out loudly for him to stop. She questions his motives in taking what he wants, and he responds after a lot of thought that they make him feel whole. Crystal questions this and suggests that being caring and kind will make him feel whole, and asks him if he has a gift to share. Humphrey thinks long and hard and remembers a gift given him when he was new. He opens his mouth to sing the song and all the creatures join in.

A charming story told in verse, underlines the theme of friendship as Humphrey realises what he has is enough. Friendship, companionship, singing together fills his heart and makes him feel whole.

Children will love reading about Humphrey and his ahah moment, when he stops just taking from his environment but gives back. Kids will see the parallel to their own lives, underscoring that sharing and cooperation is more important than the accumulation of goods.

Kids will love predicting the rhyming words, offering suggestions as to what it might be and pore over the detail given in the glorious illustrations, recognising the corals and seaweeds and fish which inhabit the reef. A multi layered story, kids will talk about what makes them feel whole, as well as the good feeling that friendship and giving gives them. Discussions about reefs, environment, amongst others will evolve as kids take in the layers of this book. This duo has produced several other books, The way home for Wolf being amongst my favourites.

Themes: Environment, Whales, Reefs, Fish, Verse story, Acquisitiveness, Sharing, Friendship.

Fran Knight