Hannah Gold’s The Last Bear was one of my books of the year in 2021. You can read my review here. I absolutely adored The Last Bear so imagine my pleasure when a beautiful copy of Hannah’s second book The Lost Whale arrived thanks to Tina Mories at Harper Collins Children’s Books. I have a huge TBR but The Lost Whale zipped straight to the top and I’m delighted to share my review today, especially as I found myself quoted within its pages!
Published by Harper Collins Children’s Books on 31st March 2022 The Last Whale is available for purchase through the links here.
The Lost Whale
The Lost Whale is the enchanting second novel from the author of The Last Bear: the bestselling debut hardback of 2021 and The Times Children’s Book of the Week, shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the British Book Awards 2022 and winner of the Blue Peter Award
‘Unforgettable highly accomplished animal adventure about the connection between a boy and a whale, with strong ecological themes’ The Bookseller, Editor’s Choice
What if you could communicate with a whale?
Rio has been sent to live with a grandmother he barely knows in California, while his mum is in hospital back home. Alone and adrift, the only thing that makes him smile is joining his new friend Marina on her dad’s whale watching trips. That is until an incredible encounter with White Beak, a gentle giant of the sea changes everything. But when White Beak goes missing, Rio must set out on a desperate quest to find his whale and somehow save his mum.
Dive into this incredible story about the connection between a boy and a whale and the bond that sets them both free.
Perfect for readers of 8+, beautifully illustrated throughout by Levi Pinfold – winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal and illustrator of Harry Potter 20th anniversary edition covers.
My Review of The Lost Whale
Rio is staying with his grand mother in California.
As Hannah Gold’s The Last Bear was one of the best books I read last year and has been busy scooping up all kinds of awards, I had very high expectations for The Lost Whale. It did not meet those expectations, but rather surpassed them completely. Hannah Gold really does have sublime magic in her writing that is completely mesmerising.
The story is gripping, with the excitement of tracking whales romping along. However, there’s so much more here too. The Lost Whale is so imbued with emotion I think I probably sobbed through the entire second half. Rio’s narrative isn’t just about finding a lost whale, it’s about finding himself too. Hannah Gold presents to perfection the role of a child supporting a parent suffering from mental health problems so that there’s someone for other children to relate to in the story alongside a hugely important message that they are not to blame for their parent’s illness, nor are they responsible for making that parent better.
Rio’s prickly personality and less than perfect behaviour at times helps youngsters understand that sometimes our words and actions are masking our true feelings. His friendship with Marina, his love for his mother and his gradual understanding of his grand mother are all presented to perfection, so that The Lost Whale becomes both heart-breaking and uplifting. Without a trace of cloying sentimentality, Hannah Gold presents emotion with clarity and reality in a supportive and helpful manner, making her books essential reading for all – children and adults alike.
There are crucial environmental aspects to the story that are so sensitively woven into the narrative that the reader learns from Rio’s adventure without even realising. There’s nothing aggressive or patronising in Hannah Gold’s approach and, consequently, finding the ways readers can have a beneficial effect on their environment is all the more impactful. Add in a beautiful, honest, Author’s Note to children, websites, advice and contacts at the end of the book and The Lost Whale become an essential addition to any home or classroom.
It’s impossible to review The Lost Whale without reference to the utterly outstanding illustrations from Levi Pinfold that pepper the text, bringing the narrative to life and engaging even the most reluctant of readers. There’s an emotional quality that draws in the reader and adds such depth and allure.
I fear I haven’t done justice to The Last Whale. Should you take a dictionary of superlatives I think they could all apply to this engaging, moving and enthralling book. The Lost Whale is utterly magnificent and the world is a better, kinder, place with this story in it. I could not have loved it more.