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A Whale, the Feeling of Loneliness, and Importance of Communication

Updated on April 3, 2019
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Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Delightful Story for Young Readers Who Are Interested in Science and Technology

Delightful story of how a young girl uses her disability and technology to help a whale communicate with other whales.
Delightful story of how a young girl uses her disability and technology to help a whale communicate with other whales. | Source

Disabilities Come in All Forms and Can Be Found in All Species

Lynn Kelly's Song For a Whale is a delightful story that has several life lessons for young readers. A disability can be found in both humans and animals. Young readers will find this to be a page-turner as they read along to discover how Iris uses her disability of being deaf and her talent in using technology to help another species with its disability.

Iris is the only deaf student in her class. She is frustrated by her teacher's constant use of sign language and getting in her face with signing. Iris has high interest in all of the technology that is available and enjoys learning to use the technology in her school. Iris is very involved in science activities and she learns about a blue whale that is unable to communicate with other whales. Iris decides to use her talents with technology to help this whale. Who knew that another creature would have the same disability as Iris does? Communication is the key to unlocking a devastating feeling of loneliness when one cannot communicate with others. Iris has felt his loneliness because of her deafness and she knows that the blue whale is probably very lonely because it cannot speak to other whales. Iris is determined to meet the whale and enlists the help of her deaf grandmother to go on a trip to Alaska in order to help the whale. The day finally comes when they board the cruise ship for this important challenge. Iris wonders about the science of how radios work with transmitting sounds. This is the key to helping Blue 55. Iris studies the frequencies of radios sound waves while she is waiting for the ship to arrive in Alaska. A song created for Blue 55 along with dolphins, a speaker, and determination to help ease Blue's loneliness wins the day for Iris and her challenge to help the whale communicate.

Kelly includes an educational and informative Author's Note at the end of this delightful story. She describes her choice of this particular whale, the 52 Hertz whale and the sounds that these whales make to write her fictional story of Iris and the blue whale. She also includes a chapter with information on deafness and sign language. Young readers will find this information to be very educational. Kelly includes illustrations at the end on how to sign Song For a Whale.

Song For a Whale was published by Delacorte Press, a division of Random House Children's books and Penguin/Random House. It is recommended for ages 8-12 and has an ISBN of 978-1-5247-7023-5.

The World of Blue Whales


Song For a Whale in the Classroom with a Wealth of Lesson Possibilities

Teachers who teach language arts, reading, and science in middle grade classrooms will want to add Lynn Kelly's Song For a Whale to their classroom library. This delightful story will be a great addition to STEM classes that are teaching the use of technology to make a difference in society.

*Chapter books are great for reading aloud to students during the day. Read Song For a Whale in a group reading session with a few chapters read aloud each day.

*Introduce the topic of disabilities and take a class poll of students who know someone who is deaf. Are there any students who know sign language?

*STEM classes in the use of technology will enjoy discovering radio frequencies and teachers in engineering classes will want to engage students in creating a radio that Iris discovered to be of use in creating sound waves.

*A study of blue whales can be added to enhance the reading experience after reading Song For a Whale. Where can these whales be found? A research writing project will be of interest to students.

*Learning sign language can also be brought into the classroom after reading Song For a Whale.

*Students might like to create their own song for a blue whale after reading.

© 2019 Cindy Hewitt


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