Song for a Whale

Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (95 ratings)

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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

"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)

"The strength of the book is its strong portrayal of Iris as a deaf girl in a hearing world and an intelligent 12-year-old in headlong, single-minded pursuit of her goal." (Booklist)

"Subtly and poignantly drawing a parallel between the girl and whale, Kelly (Chained), who has worked as a sign language interpreter, relays Iris’s venture with credibility and urgency. This finely crafted novel affectingly illuminates issues of loneliness, belonging, and the power of communication." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Song for a Whale

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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!

1 person 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!