The Blue Whale, by Jenni Desmond


I picked up “The Blue Whale” by Jenni Desmond because I was curious to read the story behind this beautiful and intriguing cover. And the book does begin as a story with “Once upon a time, a child took a book from a shelf and started to read.”



This is followed on the next page along with a breathtaking spread of the little boy in a tiny boat bobbing above an extraordinarly enormous blue whale.

The text reads, “He read that the blue whale is a mammal of gigantic size and strength. It is the largest living creature on our planet.” We, as the reader and viewer, are immediately filled with the awe and the majesty of the whale and we want to know more.



Page by page disseminates fascinating whale facts. Size, eating, weight,  eye size, wonderful, beautiful, extraordinary details. More, I want to know more, because I can’t believe I didn’t know these things!

Whenever Jenni Desmond can she uses very kid-friendly examples to relate and explain. For instance, “…blue whales exhale through two nostril-like blowholes, blowing air as high as 32 feet (the height of nine seven-year-old boys).” This text is accompanied by a fantastic spread showing a tiny boat with 7 kids standing on each others’ shoulders and, of course, the gigantic whale swimming underneath and rising to the top of the waves to exhale.


No page disappointed. Each was filled with interesting information that I really didn’t know. And the same can be said for the artwork. Handled like gorgeous fine art watercolors found in the most lyrical picture books, here it followed a factual and informative narrative. Absolutely stunning compositions and intriguing use of color and technique make you want to turn to the page to see what’s next.

I was so happily surprised by this book that I really wanted to share it with you. Jenni Desmond has found a way to intrique us with interesting facts and combine them with such beautiful illustrations that it does, indeed, read as a picture book and not a non fiction reference book.

Lovely, lovely, and kids of all ages will enjoy and learn from it. I certainly did!



Thank you!






Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Jennifer is the illustrator and author of several acclaimed picture books. Most recently is Always by My Side, 'A Stuffie Story', which she wrote and illustrated. She also is both the author and illustrator of Playing Possum, and Blue Ethel. Jennifer illustrated Gondra’s Treasure, written by Newbery award winner Linda Sue Park. As well as, Sometimes You Fly, by Newbery medalist, Katherine Applegate. She illustrated Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, The Inventor's Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, by Suzanne Slade, Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons, by Alice B. McGinty, and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz.


  1. Great book to highlight, Jennifer! I remember when I first read it. I loved the way she conveyed the facts through a child’s experience.

  2. Lindsay Hanson Metcalf

    This will be a good mentor text for me as I dive in to revisions on my nonfiction story. Thanks, Jennifer!

  3. When I read this I could almost hear the whale’s echolocation.

    So beautiful!

  4. Oh I’m just messing this all up! Sorry everyone. Andria forgive me for misspelling your name and my out of order replies! I’m typing with one finger on my phone as my husband and I drive back to Iowa from Pennsylvania today. I’m really enjoying reading everyone’s comments! I lack the finesse to edit my guffaws on the road ?

  5. It looks and sounds wonderful! Thanks for this!

  6. A beautiful book! I like the structure and how it shows an active reader. Good for classroom use. 🙂

  7. What beautiful art! Is the author the illustrator? Gotta get this one!

  8. I loved the illustrations for this one too, Jennifer (and I love yours too 🙂 )

  9. Beautiful!

  10. Couldn’t agree more—this is a special one.

  11. What a beautiful book!

  12. I love how creatively the nonfiction facts are presented in this book. Lovely illustrations, too!

  13. Thanks to all for visiting and taking the time to comment!

  14. Ooo, this book looks so luscious and the art totally original! Thanks for introducing it, Jennifer!

  15. Oh, wow, Jennifer. This looks both gorgeous and fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Looks like a wonderful example of narrative non-fiction.

  17. This looks so good. Love the illustration of the people in the whale’s mouth!
    Thanks for sharing this, Jen!

  18. I am pleased to announce that this story earned my class first place in a story board Competition at Linstead Primary and Junior School,Jamaica West Indies. I only show parts of the pictures and words of the story then I made a model of the The Blue Whale using blue cartridge paper along with some newspaper and threaded paper to make the whale as a 3D shape. The children were exposed to the video of the story. This non fiction story really piqued the interest of the children. Thanks for posting your story online and allowing us exposure to it.

    • Carol I’m thrilled that you and your students were able to get so much from the book. Congratulations on your award! May I say how happy I am that your students have such a creative and enthusiastic teacher. I am certain that Jenni Desmond would be over the moon to know that her book has had such a positive impact. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit PBB and share your story.

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