Ida and the Whale

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

I received an electronic ARC from NorthSouth Books through NetGalley.
A delightful story of a young girl who lives alone in a tree. She yearns to see beyond this world. A large blue flying whale comes by and together they head off on adventures. Ida learns to listen and see what's happening around her. Her world broadens as she listens to the whale's advice.
The illustrations are full of details for readers to explore. Don't miss the adventures in bottles on Ida's wall from beginning to end of the book.
Beautiful book to share with elementary level readers.
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This review will be published on March 26, 2019, NetGalley will be updated with additional social media links once published.


Title: Ida and the Whale
Author: Rebecca Gugger
Illustrator: Simon Röthlisberger
Genre: Children's Books, Picture Books
Publisher: North South Books
Date: March 26, 2019
Length: 32 pages
NetGalley review copy
What lies behind the sun, the moon, and the stars?
Ida can’t stop thinking about these and other very important questions. Then one night, a flying whale wakes her and takes her on an amazing journey—where some of her questions are answered and even more created.
This gentle, philosophical tale is a visual treat sure to fill curious little listeners with wonder.
Description from NetGalley
Oooh, I'm a sucker for watercolor illustrations, so this book definitely had my attention. I have always enjoyed reading stories to classes that got the kids thinking, discussing, and building off each other's ideas. I was hoping this book might be one that got those types of discussions started... and it kinda was.

What I liked
Imagery: Röthlisberger's lovely watercolors went from simple to a detailed twist of perception. There was almost an MC Escher quality to some of the illustrations that really pull you in and make you want to explore each page. This was a visually engaging book. (I know some art teachers who would love to use Ida and The Whale for a variety of units.)

Played with word placement and color: I really liked how Gugger's text would wave, stretch, or fade as it fit the story. The font wasn't constantly changing like a Geronimo Stilton book, it was generally one word per page. It's an element that worked well with the story and the illustrations.

What I'm on the fence about

Philosophical-ish: Yes, there are some statements like, "Sometimes there is more to see than you think," or, "sometimes you can only understand others if you stand on your head" that kids can discuss or wonder over. But the "philosophy" seemed to be more opposite statements than something designed to make you think. It reminded me a lot of Audrey Wood's Bright and Early Thursday Evening, except far less manic in pace.

Not a great read aloud: This book is better for a one-on-one or family read as opposed to a large group read for a class. A lot of the book's ideas are communicated through the pictures, but the details are small and it's better if children have the opportunity to really look at the illustrations. Being a good read aloud or not isn't a book killer, but it's something I automatically think of as a school librarian.

What didn't work for me

I can't put my finger on it: The story seemed to abruptly change with each idea that it briefly explored. Is it because it's a translation and something was lost in the switch to English? Is it a storytelling style that I'm not familiar with? The book just seemed more like strung together ideas as opposed to a cohesive story.

Rating: 3.0
Ida and the Whale is a quiet story with engrossing illustrations. Visually the book is fantastic. I think it's a great choice for kids who, like me, can spend a lot of time inspecting the pictures and finding hidden little gems. The narrative has some nice elements but never seems to add up to whole story. Would I buy this for my school library, most likely. Would I recommend it for a family purchase? Eh, not really. Pick this one up from your library.
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I am in love with this book! What a beautifully illustrated magical tale for both parents (or teachers) and kids. The children's books I read and review are books I read with my girls (4 and 2.5) on the Kindle or tablet, but I'm saving this one to be read when I can purchase a physical copy. I really enjoyed the ideas of mystery and wonder here, as well as friendship and how we are all different and grow at different paces and to different sizes.
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Ida and the Whale is a beautiful little story about friendship.  The absolutely gorgeous illustrations and quiet, unassuming colors create a calming experience for the reader.
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I adored the illustrations - they were perfect. The story wasn’t nearly as impressive to me.

I’m curious to see what my kids think and will edit my review once I read it with them.
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I loved the illustrations in the book. Unfortunately I found the story lacking. It had an abrupt ending. I wanted a better conclusion of their adventures.
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Loved the illustrations and the wonderful fantasy story for young children. It's a book of imagination, and seeing things through and from a different perspective. I loved how after she traveled with Ida the Whale she put reminders of the things she had seen and learned, showing the importance of traveling out of a small area of perspective and seeing everything from a larger scope. I also loved that she learned that silence is beautiful and each second doesn't have to be filled with some kind of noise. I thought this book was beautifully created and would highly recommend!
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I enjoyed this book, particularly the beautiful illustrations, but I found the story a little incomplete. 
I liked the message of spending time in silence and being at peace in someone else's company, but the ending for me was a little abrupt and I wasn't sure if I had missed something.
Nevertheless I would like to read it with my primary students who study English as a second language, and open a discussion on what the story meant to them. For me it was possible that Ida dreamed about the whale and I would like to open a discussion on dreams and have my students try to recount and illustrate their dreams.
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Ida and the Whale is a unique story about feeling alone and wanting to find a friend. Ida is dreaming and goes on a trip with a whale. The friendship and the conversations they have are meaningful and told in a way that students would understand. Children are never too young to be read to, and I especially love books that will capture a child's attention as well as send a positive message. This book hit the mark with my criteria.
This is a book that I would use in my classroom as well as recommend parents to read to their children.
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The first thing that caught my eye about this book was the illistrations. They are so pretty and whimsical. I liked how the book captured a child’s imagination while giving bits of wisdom along the way. I did find the story a little hard to follow from a child’s perspective but overall it is a great book.
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Cute book! I could see it being a good read aloud in grade 3 and below.  I imagine that it would lead to some great conversations!
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Thank you netgalley for the ARC! The illustrations in this novel were stunning. I also loved that the main character was a red haired little girl. The idea of wondering what all is out their and the unlikely adventure to see it all with a whale was very creative and fun. I also liked the message that even if you lose sight of someone, you can still carry them with you. A must buy children’s novel!
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A charming tale of imagination and friendship. The illustrations were beautiful and transported you to Ida's magical world of wonder.
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I found this one a little weird, but it does have very good lessons on understanding other perspectives, life in general, friendship, enjoying silences, etc.  The watercolor illustrations are ince, but have an unfinished quality to them, and it bugged me that there were continuity issues with how Ida's house was portrayed (sometimes with a ladder, sometimes without; sometimes low to the ground, sometimes high in the top of the tree - it was odd!)
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I just finished reading it, I really liked it. It's a well written book that has gorgeous ilustrations and good messages, I liked what it said about friendships, specially the trust you have in your friend even if you can't see each other often. I really enjoyed the experience of reading this book, so I thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so.
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Such  a  lovely book. Eye catching Illustrations and heart warming story!!!
ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!
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Can I ever resist a Swedish author/illustrator? Nope. What really makes this book are the illustrations. The illustrations are beautiful! They are light and deep and really make you want to keep moving through the story. The story itself started out whimsical and precious, but it lost me and the girls about half way through. It gets a bit confusing and it didn't capture my girls attention to much. They were mostly awed by the pictures, which I don't blame them. There are some great parts of the story and we had a chat about our imagination, so it did lend itself to a great discussion.
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This is a lovely story about a curious little girl named Ida who lives in a tree house in the forest. One night, a gigantic flying whale whisks her off to see some incredible sights beyond the sun, moon, and stars. In these magical places, which defy the limits of what Ida thought possible, the whale teaches her important lessons about different perspectives, growth, and mindfulness. 
The first time I read this story, it felt a bit disjointed to me, probably because the English translation does not always flow as maybe it does in its original German. However, I read it a second time, and I had a much more positive reaction to it then. I absolutely love the bright and bold illustrations, and I think the lessons that the whale teaches Ida are very sweet as well.
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I will be buying this book on April 2! It is stunning and the story, about imagination, is wonderful. I always found messages in a bottle an evocative trope, but this book takes it to the next level. And, the story, and accompanying text, is equally wonderful. There is so much to look at. My daughter and I read it twice in one sitting, and I already put it on my wishlist for book purchases. Buy this book.
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Loved reading the book to my two children who both just adored it. They never got bored which is a huge plus
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