Written and illustrated by Kerrie Elizabeth Godding, AMANDA’S WHALE TALE begins when Angus the pelican spots a girl asleep and adrift in an inner-tube far away from shore. Angus flies over to inform a whale named Raymond about the situation. Raymond, accompanied by Harry the seagull, swims over to the girl. After introductions, whale, seagull, and girl (Amanda) become fast friends and play games. Amanda shares fish jokes, sings songs, and brushes Raymond’s teeth (while Harry flosses) before they return her to shore.
Children may wonder where Amanda found a toothbrush and Harry got dental floss, or how a racing flag and scorecard suddenly appeared in the ocean. But in a pretend story with talking animals, those are minor issues. A major issue for parents will be that Amanda is swimming alone. She is by herself in the ocean, no one is waiting on shore for her return, and no lifeguard is in sight. This glaring safety oversight could have been eliminated with an explanation within the story or a caution in back matter; however, neither is provided. The book also fails to provide even a sentence of factual information on sea creatures—a missed opportunity to explain the dangers, habitats, lifestyles, or other characteristics of pelicans, whales, and seagulls. These omissions deny young readers the chance to learn while being entertained.
The illustrations are cute and colorful, but perspectives are not consistent from page to page, or sometimes even on the same page. For example, Amanda’s arms and legs vary in size and shape, and her relative size to Raymond varies on different pages. The simple designs often have a comic effect, and show shifting emotions as Amanda registers surprise and delight at the animals’ antics.
The language can be repetitive: “I am pleased to meet you.” “I am very pleased to meet you as well.” “I am very happy to introduce you to my dear friend, Harry.” “It’s very nice to meet you, Harry.” Animals talk in noises and English words with each other, although readers might assume they would speak to each other in noises and only use words when addressing humans.
AMANDA’S WHALE TALE is a colorful children’s early reader that misses the opportunity to teach about water safety and sea creatures, instead focusing on random acts of inter-species friendship.
~Carol Michaels for IndieReader