Zip, a beaked whale, has an encounter with an alien (aka human), who attaches a hydrophone to the young whale. He starts up a conversation with a humpback whale, which leads to Zip wanting to “record” a podcast by speaking with other types of whales as he doesn’t think he is interesting enough for the aliens. Along the way, Zip encounters a variety of other types of whales, each with their own story about the aliens and what they were collecting information on. The information covered starts simply with food and hunting methods, how sound is important to whales, poop (of course) and continues past the physical descriptions into how humans affect whales’ habitats, habits, and general health. There isn’t a story, really, just a connective thread between fascinating facts.
The artwork portrays the various types of whales, their diet, and human impact by utilizing just enough detail to differentiate and identify while also making use of label cards with common and scientific names to help the reader pick up that much more information. I particularly enjoyed that the artist added shadows and highlighting to give the cartoon illustrations more depth without muddying the images or adding distracting details. The diagrams are basic but effective tools to illustrate processes like baleen, diving to deep depths, and hunting. And the inclusion of the back matter can complement classroom discussion or further a reader’s interest to learn even more. Back matter includes a whale glossary, human impact glossary, notes, and further reading suggestions.
Setting aside the fictional elements of whales talking like humans, this book is packed with facts, scientific names, and diagrams. If you’ve already collected other titles in the Science Comics series, then this will be a great addition to the nonfiction section of any library, public or school, that serves middle schoolers.
Science Comics: Whales: Diving Into the Unknown
By Casey Zakroff
Art by Pat Lewis
Macmillan First Second, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: 9-13
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)