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Written by Flannery Fitch   

Summer in Santa Cruz brings the very special treat of whales migrating through. To celebrate our marine mammal friends, here are some of our favorite books about whales.

Amos & Boris

by William Steig

William Steig is a much beloved children’s author, and this tale of friendship is a staff favorite. Amos the mouse has always wanted to travel, so he builds a little boat and sails off. When he meets with misfortune and winds up in the sea, he’s rescued by a friendly whale named Boris. They travel together and become fast friends. Amos returns home and Boris goes on his way, until a terrible storm reunites the friends and Amos must rescue Boris! I adore this book, and you will, too.


Storm Whale

by Benji Davies

In this utterly charming picture book, Noi, a lonely fisherman’s son, finds a little whale beached after a storm. Noi quickly moves into action, rescuing the whale by bringing him home and putting it in the bathtub. Noi finds the whale to be a nice, if quiet, companion, but Noi’s father knows the whale needs to go home to the ocean. If you like this charmer, there’s a sequel—Storm Whale in Winter!


If You Want to See a Whale

by Julie Fogliano & Richard Hall

The whale may not appear until the end of the book, but this delightful story about a boy and his dog trying to find a whale will appeal to all the whale watchers in Santa Cruz. We know they’re out there, but it’s a rare treat to see one. Fogliano gives advice to all whale watchers: no roses, no pirates, lots of patience! Until your patience pays off, let this charmer tide you over.


Humphrey the Lost Whale

by Wendy Tokuda & Richard Hall

In 1985, a humpback whale took a wrong turn and ended up swimming into the San Francisco Bay. He made it about 64 miles up the Sacramento River, and it took scientists and conservation activists almost a month to help him find his way back to his ocean home. This is a great story with a local connection, and a great book about whales!


Ice Whale

by Jean Craighead-George

Jean Craighead George is the author of a number of classic tales of animals and humans. In Ice Whale, she returns to the cold North to tell the story of a young Eskimo boy searching forgiveness for a terrible mistake. After accidentally leading Yankee whalers to a pod of whales that they promptly slaughter, Toozak is banished from his home and charged with spending his life protecting the whales. Below the seas he paddles over, the young whale Siku grows and learns, until his fate intersects with Toozak’s. This is a great book with everything you could hope for—great characters and plot combined with knowledge of the natural world.


In the Heart of the Sea, Young Reader’s Edition

by Nathaniel Philbrick

Ever wonder where Herman Melville got the idea for his classic tome, Moby Dick? It wasn’t born in the watery depths but was inspired by a true story. In 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry white whale. In this younger reader’s edition of his account of the disaster, Philbrick weaves a thrilling tale of misadventure and survival on the high seas.


Moby Dick

by Herman Melville, presented by Jan Needle

If you have an ambitious reader who wants to really sink their teeth into a whale tale, look no further. This abridged and illustrated edition of Moby Dick is perfect for young readers looking to get into the classics. It’s abridged enough to be readable without losing the power of the prose. Read it with In the Heart of the Sea for the full story!


Flannery Fitch is a bookseller at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Her life has been about books since before she could read.

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