The Wizards and The Whale is a collaboration between mother and daughter, Jean and Anthinula Tori, has resulted in a book with a timely ecological message. The Worldly Wizard, Willow the Whale, travels the planet and has seen and heard the warning signs concerning the perils facing Earth. Now she has decided to take the unprecedented step of gathering the wizards of the world together. The 12 wizards set out individually, not knowing the purpose of their journey.
Anthinula Tori has chosen to use the letter W as much as possible in her text. Although providing lovely alliterative experiences, it seems somewhat contrived at times. However, that may not bother children. The text has all the hallmarks of a folktale. There is a quest, a gathering, a mostly male set of characters (although Willow is female), and the trials of the 12 journeys. However, the ending is left suitably open to speculation. The message is conveyed that saving the planet will demand a concerted global effort, expertly led.
The wizards wrote their words onto lanterns and sent them up into the sky. These lanterns feature in the endpapers. However, this does not seem to be a very eco-friendly method of spreading the news. Perhaps children could discuss how the wizards might have better disseminated their message.
Jean Tori has developed a unique style of handmade mulberry paper upon which she paints using tempera (gouache). Her work is original and highly illustrative and based on the concept of colour theory. The colours are rich and vibrant, filled with intricate designs and patterns.
The Wizards and The Whale could be a unique addition to school libraries’ collections of books that encourage children to consider how they, too, might heed the urgent warnings of Willow the Whale.
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