Ice whale by Jean Craighead George
Recently, I heard a interview on NPR with Mrs. George’s son and daughter. They were talking about their mother’s last book. When I heard ‘bowhead whale’, I perked up my ears. When I heard that her son was a marine biologist and bowhead expert, I knew I had to read this book.
What do Inupiat, Yup’ik and Yankee whalers have in common? A bowhead whale that lives for 200 years, surpassing the generations who try to hurt him and protect him. The book starts off with the encounter of a boy, Toozack, and a whale, Siku. Toozack was kayaking and saw the ice whale being born. Some Yankee whalers come up to him and they get him to tell them where the whales are. The whalers start killing the whales and since he had led them to the whaling ground, Toozack was cursed. He was charged with protecting the ice whale and the ice whale with protecting him. Since bowhead whales can live for 100-200 years, Toozack had to name his son Toozack and charge him with protecting the whale. At the same time, the whalers were also having generations born and passing down whaling secrets to their children. The ice whale, Siku, is given a voice in the book by translating whale sounds heard over the hydrophones into lines and squiggles in the book.
What I loved about this book – the bowhead Siku has a voice, by translating the lines from an electronic device, Jean George gives the whale a voice, personality and brings the reader closer to the action. I liked how the book switched back and forth from hunting the whales to protecting them, to the whale protecting the humans. I think this book is a good read for anyone who likes whales or has read other books by Jean George.