The Boy Who Met a Whale is a compelling and fast-paced story that follows Razi and his twin sister Shifa as they aid the adventurous Zheng to recover lost treasure.
Razi, still grieving for the loss of his father, avoids the ocean that took his life. One day, Razi discovers the exhausted and sunburnt Zheng laying in the bottom of a boat that washes up near to the beach. Along with Shifa, the trio must recover an important relic, the Dagger of Serendib, and evade the perusing threat of Marco and Cook, who relentlessly trail the team.
Razi’s trusting nature sits in contrast to the enigmatic and world-wise Zheng. While Razi has fallen out of love with the ocean and prefers to stay on land, Zheng is a traveller who actively seeks thrill and danger, even just to be able to tell the tale afterwards.
This story is peppered with enticing details which treat the reader to a vision of Nizrana Farook’s Sri Lanka. The nods to tradition, including stilt fishing and the making of bobbin lace, capture and preserve an idyllic world where the reader can visit.
Key to this story is the innate reverence for the natural world and, in particular, the animals which share the island. Homage is paid to the majestic turtles and Maalu, the giant whale, profoundly and poignantly affects Razi. The children also show respect towards the ox in the story, despite their immediate peril.
The Boy Who Met a Whale is a story about being lost and then found. Both Razi and Zheng are missing something, either emotionally or physically. Although this is a story about finding buried treasure, Farook expands and develops the notion of what is precious and worth searching for.
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