Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mabel the Whale

Wow, I'm nearly two weeks behind on book reviews! Don't worry, we're still reading to the Blueberry. I've just been a bit busy building baby furniture and planning how his room will be decorated to blog.

Mabel the Whale by Patricia King is another book I remember quite well from my childhood. The soft illustrations and coloring--a pale foamy green--are light-hearted and compelling. In the story, Mabel, a whale living in the Pacific Ocean has a very happy life. The water is clean and blue and her days are spent frolicking about with her cousins. One day, men on a boat catch Mabel and take her to an aquarium called Marineland. At first she's miserable at the aquarium where the water isn't blue and she's placed in a small tank. She even becomes sick because she's unable to shield all of her from the sun. Finally, a doctor tends to her needs and they find her a new, much deeper, tank. Soon Mabel's happy again, as are the visitors who come to see her.

Though I was thrilled to recognize another book I remembered fondly, my reaction to this book now is one of puzzlement. This whale is taken away from her family and home to be put on display for others to gawk at. Just because her sunburn is treated and she's put in larger tank, everything's supposedly hunky dory. What about the fact that the water still isn't blue? What about missing her cousins and people to play with? Though the final scene shows a bunch of happy kids smiling at a spouting and smiling Mabel, these children can't play with Mabel like her fellow whales could. There is no reason for her to be so happy other than that her situation is better than it was when she first arrived at the aquarium. It's possible that the moral of this story is to make the best of things, which is a good message for children who are naturally resilient. (It certainly isn't evil aquarium as the staff is portrayed as quite caring.).

This book is a good early reader, I'd say for grades 1-2. As a read aloud, it's a bit long for a younger child, but as I noted the pictures are interesting and even funny--such as when they pad the forklift-type contraption with a mattress. Recommended.

Source: Library Book

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