There is something very troubling and sad about the beaching of whales. Sally, the young narrator of this children's book, and her brothers join in the futile efforts to save a dying whale on the beach. She feels "mad at the unforgiving ocean,/rushing away from the shore./Mad at our short arms, and the whale's long body." In her heart, Sally wishes she could have seen this old Leviathan alive again, lunging out to sea with a glint of hope and joy and freedom in its eyes.
Jane Yolen, the author of more than 300 books for children and young adults, adds a note to this story giving some of the reasons behind beachings, such as being sick or old, pollution, brain lesions, or the activities of military sonar stations. Most children from ages 5 through 9 will be to handle this sobering material. Yolen has done a fine job with the emotional responses of Sally to the death of the whale. Her rituals and hopes are both sincere and touching.