The Star Whale


The Star Whale swims/ In the slow gulf stream of galaxies,/ Swallowing the glowing plankton of the stars….’ Then again, also reaching for the stars, is Mama Tree. ‘Through final fingers that wrap around her roots/ she reaches out like any mother/ to touch, to feed, to warn.’ Meanwhile, the Moose Moon scoops ‘moonlight from the sky/ with antlers like cupped palms and outstretched fingers’. 

Nicola Davies found inspiration for her breathtaking poems in Petr Horáček’s sketchbook. The result is The Star Whale, a collection of works that are quite magnificent. The pair’s observations, respect for and devotion to nature shimmers throughout every page. Thereafter, Bookwagon recommends The Star Whale as a book to love, read, know and gift. It is outstanding, just perfect.

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The Star Whale

Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horáček

(Otter-Barry Books)

In her introduction, Nicola Davies explains how Petr Horáček’s sketchbooks inspire the poems of The Star Whale. It seems that the usual shape of the process was reversed. Thereafter this wonderful illustrator and writer’s pictures form each poem, from Last Night I Visited a Lion, to Goldfinch.
Along the way, we burrow deep into the wonder and possibilities of nature. It seems, for example, that we must be cautious and courteous when visiting a lion. In fact, his conversation strays beyond ‘the way wildebeest will not hold still‘ to ‘the way the rains don’t come/ as they used to;/ how the dry ground cracks open/ and his cubs starve.’ 
Then again, in Northern waters, we learn how a polar bear ‘requires ice on which to stand/ To hunt its favourite meal,/ Fat seal’. After all, if it’s ‘to truly thrive/ It needs a solid meal/ Of seal.’  However, what about of the ‘nourishment‘ of the T Rex? In Way Back in the Old Cretaceous we wonder, ‘Did he hunt for recreation/ Slashing limbs in amputation’ or might he have sniffed ‘out dead nourishment/ A scavenger’? 
Then again, we’re all encouraged to look further than what we know. For example, what about ‘God’s fire’, the butterfly, or ‘a garden where the world grows wild’? Then again, what about seeking the ‘ocean,/ grey as slate./ with waves that reach the third-floor windows’? We might ‘watch out for the albatross that glides there’ and thereafter ‘see it inside [our] heart’.
The writer and illustrator worked together to create A First Book of Animals beloved by Bookwagon readers. Again, with The Star Whale, they have created a book that is destined to be treasured, read, recited and gifted. Bookwagon will keep a copy for posterity. What’s more, we encourage every family, every classroom, to do the same. This is magnificent.


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