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Song for a Whale  By  cover art

Song for a Whale

By: Lynne Kelly
Narrated by: Abigail Revasch,Lynne Kelly
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Publisher's summary

In the spirit of modern-day classics like Fish in a Tree and Counting by 7s comes the story of a deaf girl's connection to a whale whose song can't be heard by his species and the journey she takes to help him.

From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, 12-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she's the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she's not very smart. If you've ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.

When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: She should invent a way to "sing" to him! But he's 3,000 miles away. How will she play her song for him?

Full of heart and poignancy, this affecting story by sign language interpreter Lynne Kelly shows how a little determination can make big waves.

This audiobook edition includes an author’s note and a section on deafness and sign language, both read by the author Lynne Kelly 

"Fascinating, brave, and tender...a triumph." (Katherine Applegate, Newbery Award-winning author of The One and Only Ivan)

"Beautifully written and such an important story for kids with big struggles in their lives. I fell into Iris's world from the first chapter. Lynne Kelly does an amazing job telling the story from Iris's perspective." (Millicent Simmonds, actress, Wonderstruck and A Quiet Place)

"Quick-moving, suspenseful...this remains a satisfying, energetic read. Iris' adventures will engross readers." (Kirkus Reviews)

"This finely crafted novel affectingly illuminates issues of loneliness, belonging, and the power of communication." (Publishers Weekly)

©2019 Lynne Kelly (P)2019 Listening Library

Critic reviews

Schneider Family Book Award Winner

A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year

"At its luminous heart, Song for a Whale is a tale about longing for connection and finding it in the most magical and unexpected of places. Fascinating, brave and tender, this is a story like no other about a song like no other. A triumph." (Katherine Applegate, Newbery Award-winning author of The One and Only Ivan)   

Song for a Whale is beautifully written and is such an important story for kids with big struggles in their lives. I fell into Iris's world from the first chapter.  Lynne Kelly does an amazing job telling the story from Iris's perspective.” (Millicent Simmonds, actress, Wonderstruck and A Quiet Place

"A quick-moving, suspenseful plot takes her from junkyards to a cruise ship as she [Iris] gains the confidence to stand up for herself and take control of her life. Written by a sign-language interpreter, this story incorporates important elements of Deaf culture and the expansiveness and richness of ASL...this remains a satisfying, energetic read. Iris' adventures will engross readers." (Kirkus Reviews

What listeners say about Song for a Whale

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  • Overall
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A five star whale of a tale!

This is a beautiful and riveting story of a young girl, who, through her determination and love, gives and receives A life changing song! I would recommend this book to readers of any age.

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4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • AB
  • 09-06-19

Enjoyable, but could have been better.

I wish that this book had been edited more substantively. Some thoughtful themes and fun characters, but doesn’t quite cohere. The language was straining at times too hard to be poetic and symbolic.

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful story of perseverance

I absolutely loved this story. The weaving of sign language into the story is easy to comprehend and a lovely touch for those who know the language. Iris’s character is someone easy to fall in love with and root for along the way!

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2 people found this helpful

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Entertaining and educational book!

The book was excellent, a great story of adventure about a deaf girl, her grandmother, and her journey to help a unique whale. The reader did a great job of bringing the story to life!

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1 person found this helpful

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Great

It was the best book I’ve ever read in my life literally the best ever read my entire life 

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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I loved it and I loved the ending

It was a really good book and I was sad when it ended because I want more

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Promotes lying and poor family relationships

I wanted to like this book. The story could have been so positive and empowering but instead the author chose to create a very negative family dynamic with an over reactive mother, detached father and deceitful daughter and grandmother. The father in the story doesn’t even know ASL. What father of a deaf child would refuse to learn how to communicate with his daughter? There is so much unnecessary rudeness. It also goes deep into how the daughter and grandmother go against the parents’ and scientist’s wishes and travel to Alaska. It’s such a disappointment that the author chose to take what could have been such a wonderful story and instead tore apart the family.
I will not be recommending this book to anyone.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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A beautiful connection

This audiobook was beautifully told and makes multiple connections. I would recommend. My middle school class loved it and they’re now warding questions about ASL and whales.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Moving Story

You can tell a lot of love and research went into this book. My 10 year old daughter and I listened to this book together. It captured our attention right away and held it until the last moment. We had great discussions thanks to this book. Lovely read!

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Hard to finish

Loved the deaf/sign language elements of the story. Strongly disliked Iris. Her character is so whiney. She doesn’t listen to the advice of adults and then whines when it goes exactly the way the adults said it would. Also, Iris is way too young to be as unsupervised as she is. Bought this to listen on a road trip with the family and we were all bored.

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