Picture Book: The Eye of the Whale: A Rescue Story
Author & Illustrator: Jennifer O’Connell
Summary: This award-winning and true story of a whale rescue is inspiring. A local fisherman discovers a humpback whale tangled in lines from a crab-trap near San Francisco. This is deadly because whales must breathe at the ocean’s surface.
On shore a ship captain calls in a rescue team of 4 divers. One of them, James, has never been close to a whale and is unsure of what to expect. They hurry to get to the whale, fearing sharks might get to her first.
When they arrive, they realize she is not able to move. Fortunately she is near the surface, but they must dive in to see the lines.
Once below the surface, they realize that the lines are cutting her; she is so tangled they will have to get close and cut many times to free her.
The ship’s captain warns James and the others to be careful of her tale; once it is freed, it is deadly.
The divers go deep enough and close enough to cut the lines while the huge whale is very still.
James notices the whale watching everything they do. Once freed, the whale dives deep. Then she comes up for a quick whirl around the divers.
After disappearing again, she comes right at James
then nudges him gently.
Then she does the same to the other 3 divers, making eye contact all the while, before plunging into the ocean and swimming away.
Hanna’s Comments: I am fascinated by connections between animals, particularly mammals. These seem glorious evidence of God’s wondrous creativity and desire for humans to be stewards of the diversity of Earth’s creatures. Yes, the humpback really did circle and then nudge all four divers. The facts about this story and humpback whales are in the back of the book. Be sure to read these so that you can answer your audience’s questions. Then talk about the privilege of communicating with some of God’s many species.
Original Publisher & Date: Tilbury House, 2013
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: So God created the great sea creatures… (Genesis 1:21); Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth? (Job 35:11); the Lord is good to all; the Lord’s mercy is over all that God has made. (Psalm 145:9)
Idea(s) for Application: Children are fascinated by whales. Use this book as the centerpiece to a lesson about God’s creative diversity and our stewardship of the Earth.