Vanessa Pirotta (text) and Samantha Metcalfe (illustrator), The Voyage of Whale and Calf, CSIRO Publishing, April 2022, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781486315109
The Voyage of Whale and Calf follows the migration of a young calf and his mother from the east coast of Australia to the icy waters of Antarctica. Readers will learn about breeding, feeding, communication, food chains and some of the threats faced by whales. Non-fiction information is softened by lyrical descriptions – ‘painting a picture’ rather than just recounting the facts. The author, a wildlife scientist and science communicator, explains concepts in a child-friendly way, for example, comparing the size of mother and calf to a bus and car.
A page of facts and a glossary provide new information and expand on concepts introduced in the main story. Teacher notes are available on the CSIRO Publishing website which include questions and/or activities for the learning areas: Science, English, Mathematics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures.
Samantha Metcalfe specialises in wildlife illustration, and this is evident in the detail and realism of her illustrations. The illustrations are done with coloured pencil (or digital equivalent) using predominantly blues and greys (as expected in an ocean-themed book). The effect is soft, calming illustrations.
Best suited to readers aged 5-9 years, primary classrooms and libraries.
Reviewed by Laura Holloway