Waiting for the Whales


32 pages
ISBN 0-920501-66-4
DDC jC813'.54




Illustrations by Ron Lightburn

Caroline M. Hallsworth is a librarian at Cambrian College in Sudbury.


Waiting for Whales is a poignant story of the relationship between a
grandfather and his granddaughter, and of their mutual delight in and
respect for nature. The grandfather is a crotchety old man who mellows
under the beguiling influence of his granddaughter. He teaches the
little girl about the natural world and together they share their
special rituals, including waiting for the whales. One year, he dies the
day the whales return and she is left to mourn. She comes to learn that
death is part of the natural cycle and rediscovers her grandfather’s
spirit when the whales return the following year.

The story is told with subtlety and grace. Rhythmic structure and the
use of repetition fit well with the theme of the cycles of nature and
make this an ideal story for reading aloud.

Rendered in a style reminiscent of Alex Colville’s, the wonderful
artwork cleverly enhances the text. The reader does not see the
grandfather’s face until his granddaughter enters his life, and then
his face is revealed gradually, as he blooms in his new relationship.
The grandfather’s hat is a powerful symbol, first hiding his face,
then tipped back to reveal him, and finally falling to the porch floor
upon his death. That his granddaughter takes up and wears his hat
reinforces the theme of the grandfather’s living on in her.

A gentle, touching book and a must read for any child who has lost a
beloved grandparent.


McFarlane, Sheryl., “Waiting for the Whales,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/24401.