Reading/Interest Level: Preschool, Primary
Author: Megumi Iwasa
Illustrator: Jun Takabatake
Publisher: Gecko Press
Enjoying the clear blue sky or the dazzling ultramarine of the ocean may not be enough for retired Professor Whale anymore. He has written letters to unknown recipients across the ocean and is eagerly awaiting responses. One letter comes from an adolescent whale whose grandfather knew Professor Whale. Other responses come from Professor Whale's friends themselves who decided to return for a reunion when they received Professor Whale's letters. Inspired by his young pen pal, Professor Whale and his friends reinstate the Whale Point Olympics where the new generation learn that it's more about friendship and supporting each other than taking home the gold medal.
The book itself and the illustrations on each page are a lovely addition to any children's bookshelf. Although not billed as a series, readers may connect more to the characters if they are familiar with the preceding book, which describes a pen pal relationship between Professor Whale's pupil, Penguin, and Giraffe from Africa. The illustrations are juvenile, but obviously thoughtful, and may inspire young readers to try their hand at copying the simple lines. The font and layout are aesthetically pleasing to both young and old readers. The animals are severely humanized and some of the dialogue can feel trite. An early reader will also encounter some challenging vocabulary words throughout the text that are too complicated to decipher on their own, but which would be a pleasant challenge for the child who is ready to tackle chapter books with a story line appropriate to their adolescence.