Elem. – The Whale Who Swam Through Time: A 200-Year-Journey in the Arctic

Boersma, Alex, and Nick Pyenson. The Whale Who Swam Through Time: A 200-Year-Journey in the Arctic. Roaring Brook Press, 2022. 978-1-250-80302-3. Unpaged. $19.99. Grades 1-4.

This amazing nonfiction picture book tells the story of the world’s longest living mammal-the bowhead whale. This remarkable animal spends its entire life in the Arctic Ocean and has a lifespan of two hundred years. In a creative approach, the authors take the reader on a journey from the perspective of a Balaena mysticetus born two centuries ago. As a newborn calf, she and her mother rest undisturbed as they observe a sailing ship quietly making its way through the Northwest Passage. The young one learns from her mother and reaches maturity by age 25 years. As a baleen whale, she feeds by swimming through the water with mouth open, devouring her favorite food-orange copepods. Fifty years later, the bowhead, now with her own calf, encounters a noisy steamship with a crew of whalers. The pair barely escape from a sharp harpoon. At one hundred years of age, the marine mammal faces new threats from both the ocean’s surface and its depths.  Noise from oil drills and submarines travels underwater for miles, interfering with whale communication. Today, fifty years later, the bowhead finds that the ocean is warmer, and the ice is receding. There are dangers from propeller blades, plastic flotsam and jetsam, and fishing lines. What will she experience next over the upcoming decades? In the back matter, the authors provide detailed information about the bowhead’s habits and habitat, as well historical background on the Northwest Passage and whaling. Boersma is also the illustrator and uses a variety of media to create fabulous drawings that showcase the whale’s environment and experiences over time. Young readers will be fascinated by this story of a long-living animal that is left with only distant memories of what once was.

THOUGHTS: This picture book will be useful in science and ecology units.  It is also a good mentor text for creative nonfiction. A first choice for elementary collections.

599.5276 Whales          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member

Elem. – Great Races (Series NF)

Great Races. Momentum, The Child’s World, 2020. $20.95 ea. $167.70 set of 8. 32 p. Grades 3-6.

Ford, Jeanne Marie. Race Around the World. 978-1-503-83219-0.
Havemeyer, Janie. Race to Mount Everest. 978-1-503-83223-7.
Hutchinson, Patricia. Race to Space. 978-1-503-83220-6.
Maurer, Gretchen. Race to the Bottom of the Ocean. 978-1-503-83224-4.
Perdew, Laura. Race to Discover Energy Independence. 978-1-503-83222-0.
—. Race to Renewable Energy. 978-1-503-83226-8.
Rea, Amy C. Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb. 978-1-503-83225-1.
—. Race to the Poles. 978-1-503-83221-3.

Author Amy C. Rea taps into touchstones of world history in these concise overviews. Race to the Atomic Bomb provides the highlights of the creation of the atomic bomb, starting with brief background of founding scientists and ending with a mention of the post World War II proliferation of nuclear weapons. Aimed at a young audience, the thirty-two page book traces the development of the atom bomb from the British James Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron in 1935 to Albert Einstein’s prodding Franklin Delano Roosevelt to form the Manhattan Project to the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Black and white photographs of major scientists and scenes give context for young readers. The book concludes with probing critical thinking questions. Includes contents, glossary, resources, index.

THOUGHTS: Young readers who need some knowledge of these topics may benefit from this series. Though the facts are true, they just skim the surface. For example, Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atom bomb merits a few lines. Relaying the number of deaths and including Truman’s reflection on the dreadfulness of the atom bomb does not convey the impact of such devastation. This series seems directed at a younger audience who are just learning about these events.

355.8 History          Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia