A Whale of the Wild

by Rosanne Parry

Other authorsLindsay Moore (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2020

Call number



Greenwillow Books (2020), Edition: Illustrated, 336 pages


"For Vega and her family, salmon is life. And Vega is learning to be a salmon finder, preparing for the day when she will be her family's matriarch. But then she and her brother Deneb are separated from their pod when a devastating earthquake and tsunami render the seascape unrecognizable. Vega must use every skill she has to lead her brother back to their family. The young orcas face a shark attack, hunger, the deep ocean, and polluted waters on their journey. Will Vega become the leader she's destined to be?"--Amazon.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
Vega and Deneb are sibling orca whales of the Salish Sea. They come from a long matrilineal line of orcas. There is much affection and support among the family members, as well as a knowledge of the area's long history. They are also painfully aware of the changes taking place: a lack of salmon,
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noisy boats that interfere with their echolocation, and pollution. A devastating earthquake and tsunami upend their familiar places, and Vega and Deneb find themselves separated from their family. Vega, as a wayfinder, is put to the test to figure out where they are, find food and reunite with their family. This is an appealing portrayal of the orcas as intelligent social animals in the fight for their lives. It is also a cautionary tale of the need to save and protect the environment and the web of life. Extensive backmatter describes the southern resident killer whale community; provides information about orcas and wildlife of the area and the Native tribes; and explains the challenges facing the Salish Sea. A book to inspire young environmentalists and animal lovers.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Rosanne Parry returns to animal fiction in this gripping story of two young orcas who must find their way after a series of tragedies separate them from their pod. Used to following her Greatmother, who is the wayfinder for their group, Vega nevertheless has some potential as a wayfinder herself.
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Grieving the death of her newborn sister, Capella, she leaves her family pod in anger, determined to take the baby's remains to a special spot. Her younger brother Deneb follows after her, determined to bring her back to the family. While thus separated from the larger group, a terrible undersea earthquake occurs, and together with much of the marine life of the Salish Sea, Vega and Deneb head desperately for the safety of the open ocean, where the depths will provide them a refuge from the destructive waves that are coming. Having endured this natural disaster, the siblings must find a way to survive going forward, and Vega takes her place as the wayfinder. But can she find the salmon that she and her brother need to survive? And will they ever be reunited with their family...?

I absolutely loved Parry's A Wolf Called Wander, about the lonely journey of a wolf whose pack had been attacked and dispersed, and who traveled the Oregon wilderness, looking for a new home and family, so I picked up A Whale of the Wild with a great deal of anticipation. That anticipation was made all the keener by the fact that it was illustrated by Lindsay Moore, whose picture-book, Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival, I found both beautiful and moving. Happily, I was not disappointed on either score, finding the story here immensely engaging, and the artwork simply lovely. There were moments of great sadness in the story, and moments of wonder as well, and Parry did an excellent job capturing the perspectives of Vega and Deneb throughout their many experiences, incorporating interesting information about orcas - the fact that they share food in their pods, or that they never attack humans - into her text in a natural way. I found myself utterly engrossed in this tale, hoping against hope that the pair would find the rest of their family, and overjoyed at every success they experienced. The dangers of life in the wild - some natural, some manmade - make the story more suspenseful as well, and I was so relieved when, having found Aquila and Altair, Vega was able to lead them to salmon in time to save the former from the hunger sickness. I was also struck by the scene in which Vega and her brother work with the humans on shore, to restore the river where the salmon spawn, and came away wondering if there were real-life human/orca interactions that might have inspired that part of the story. As mentioned, the artwork was absolutely gorgeous, capturing the beauty of the orcas and the world around them, and making the reading process far more pleasurable. The detailed afterword gives more information about orcas and their world, and offers children concrete steps they can take, in helping to preserve and protect our natural world, and help the orcas.

All in all, a delightful, moving, educational and inspiring book, one I would recommend to all middle-grade readers (or readers of middle-grade fiction) who enjoy animal stories, or who appreciate tales with unusual and unexpected perspectives.
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LibraryThing member GRgenius
I was SO surprised by this story. This was my first exposure to the author and honestly, when I first read about the story, I thought...a story through the eyes of a whale, how interesting! That first impression did nothing to prepare me for the struggles, the triumphs, the worries, the journeys,
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the heartache, and the wisdom within.

You don't simply play the part of a watcher in this story; as things unfold, you are every bit a part of it. From the moment you meet Vega and Denab, Mother and Greatmother, Uncle and cousins and the whole family pod, you are a part of the group...for better or worse. I say this because there are things to celebrate...the chance of new life, the hope for tomorrow, and the love of family, whether they be blood or "strangers"...but there are also many realities that hit me rather hard. The loss of a family member, the great quake, the separation, the struggle to survive even when you're not the normally hunted animal of the sea...and then seeing both the positive and negative ways man can impact their habitat. I really liked how the author wove that balance into the story. It was never one or the other was clearly the bad guy, but rather there were those among them that were working for the greater good, trying to find that equilibrium between their world and ours because ultimately in the end, they are in fact one and the same.

So, if you're looking for a story that packs a punch, a tale that doesn't shy from the realities that animals and humans face every day, and reminds us to treat the planet as a treasure not a wasteland, this is most definitely a book for you!

**ARC received for review; opinions are my own
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LibraryThing member jennybeast
Cleverly done -- the storytelling is compelling, and the message is all about the struggles facing the Southern resident orca population -- starvation from loss of Salmon, warming waters, boat noise. Fast moving, excellent illustrations, respectful messages about Indigenous tribes. Love that it's
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centered on the Salish Sea, and the voice is just perfect to appeal to middle grade readers who love animals. I also really enjoyed the various dramas (earthquake, looking for pod, other orca populations and their food incompatibilities) -- it's just really interesting and an excellent example of how show impacts readers more than tell. Good back matter as well.
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Iowa Children's Choice Award (Nominee — 2023)
Lectio Book Award (Nominee — 2023)
Green Earth Book Award (Recommended Reading — Children's Fiction — 2021)


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