What if you could communicate with a whale?
Hannah Gold ensnared Middle Grade hearts last year with her best-selling debut The Last Bear – a huge roar for our earth in the war against climate change and an unforgettable story of a remarkable connection between animal and human.
I completely fell in love with Hannah’s Bear and she returns with an equally incredible story as powerful and spellbinding as the ocean itself. A story of the breath-taking bond between a boy and one of the most big-hearted creatures on our planet; the grey whale.
Alone and adrift, 11 year old Rio has been sent halfway across the world to live with a grandmother he barely knows in California while his mum is in hospital back home. For so long he has been completely submerged by his mum’s mental illness and the strain of caring for her is drowning him.
Months of sadness keep Rio a prisoner in his own thoughts and instead of exploring Ocean Bay, he stays holed up in his room. But when his grandmother brings him a treasured collection of his mum’s old things, he finds a sketchbook – the pages brimming with beautiful drawings of a grey whale with distinctive white markings: White Beak. It’s as if the ocean has spoken directly to his heart and he instantly feels closer to his mum. A glimmer of hope washes over him and Rio feels the waves calling him, pulling him towards them.
Trudging the beach alone, Rio meets Marina. A similar age and a budding Marine Biologist she invites him aboard The Spyhopper on one of her dad’s whale watching trips. It’s here he has his first incredible encounter with White Beak, a gentle giant of the sea and everything changes. Not only is it a one-in-a-million chance that he’s seen the very same whale his mum loved so much all those years ago but he discovers a gift hidden deep within him: he can hear the whale song.
Marina and her dad Birch invite Rio to be a regular crew member – afterall his unique talent is crucial in helping them track and count the whales as they migrate along the Pacific coastline. For the first time in years, Rio feels like he’s come up for air and he no longer feels so suffocated. He also knows that when mum finds out he’s found White Beak it will make her happy again – he’s going to make her get better.
Until White Beak goes missing…
For days, Rio and Marina frantically search the whale watching websites for sightings along the grey whale migration route but there’s nothing. It seems she never made it to Mexico and the sanctuary of the lagoons. The trail has gone cold. Marina has educated Rio on all the dangers whales face in our oceans – choking on plastic, becoming tangled in fishing nets, fatal collisions with cruise ships and boat propellers- and he fears the worst. He sets out on a desperate quest to find his lost whale, he knows she’s in trouble and if he can’t save her, how will he save his mum?
Hannah Gold has done it again! She has the most spectacular talent for connecting children to our world’s most endangered creatures and through the power of her storytelling, empowering them to believe they can make a difference.
‘Awareness is the change of heart…None of us can save the world single-handedly, but together we might just stand a chance.’
I know we’re about to see a tidal wave of love and support for The Lost Whale, I think I loved it even more than The Last Bear (if that’s possible!) I’m all at sea after finishing it and can’t even think about reading another book yet – my head’s still somewhere in the middle of the Pacific! White Beak has completely stolen my heart -and whale watching has well and truly been added to my bucket list!
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
Ever since I was in my early twenties and first saw a grey whale, these gentle giants of the sea have always fascinated me. Years later, just before the start of the pandemic, I returned to Baja, Mexico and spent four life-changing days on marine protected waters. There was one moment that will stay with me forever – the sight of a grey Whale staring up at me from beneath the water; her gaze fixed steadfastly upon mine.
In that moment, I believed she was trying to communicate a story to me. A story of persecution to the brink of extinction, of survival against all the ways humankind seems intent on destroying the ocean, but also – and most importantly – a story of love. The kind of love that exists only between humans and wild animals and which is fuelled with the healing power of nature. It is my hope that in The Lost Whale I have captured all of this and more, and I feel very honoured to share Rio and White Beak’s adventure with you.
The Lost Whale will be published on the 31st March by Harper Collins Children’s Books. Perfect for readers of 8+
With thanks to Tina Mories and Haper Collins Children’s Books for the beautiful early proof copy of the book.
Levi Pinfold’s illustrations are being kept a closely guarded secret and I cannot wait to get my hands on a stunning hardback copy of the book to drink in their beauty.
If you’ve not read Hannah’s best-selling debut The Last Bear you absolutely must!
You can read my review here