Song for a Whale – Lynne Kelly

Book cover

Song for a Whale

By Lynne Kelly

Delacorte Books for Young Reader 2019 – 320 Pages – Genre: Realistic fiction, Adventure

Review by CES Librarian Stephanie Hamilton

Twelve-year-old Iris is deaf. But that doesn’t stop her from her favorite hobby, studying and repairing old radios. As the only deaf student at her school, Iris often feels like no one understands her, and like her classmates think she can’t possibly be smart if she can’t hear. 

One day in science class, Iris’s teacher Ms. Alamilla shares about a unique whale named Blue 55. This whale is a hybrid between a blue whale and a fin whale and because of this, Blue 55’s song is at such a pitch that no other whales can hear or understand what he is saying. Iris immediately identifies with the whale, understanding what it is like to not be understood by those around you. 

Iris begins a mission to find a way to communicate with Blue 55. Using the knowledge she has gained from repairing radios as well as help from her school’s music class, she begins making a song that is meant just for Blue 55 to hear and to let him know he is not alone. The only problem is that she lives in Texas, and Blue 55 lives in the ocean off the coast of Alaska. After various failed attempts to convince her parents to take her to Alaska to play this song from Blue 55, Iris’s grandmother who lives in assisted living works alongside her to devise a top secret way to get them both to Alaska to not only help Iris, but to also check something off her own bucket list.

Will they find Blue 55? And if so, will Iris’s song work and get her message to the whale?

Lynne Kelly, a sign language interpreter, writes a novel that has heart and will have the reader rooting for Iris every step of the way.

Schneider Family Book Award WinnerA New York Public Library Best Book of the Year