Review: Song For a Whale

BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations

Book Title: Song for a Whale (available here)

Author: Lynne Kelly

Publisher: Piccadilly Press

Publication Date: February 2019

Most Suitable For: Years 4-6

Review By: Emma Rogers (@ecawemma), Senior Lecturer Primary Education

This is a brilliant book. I absolutely loved every page and couldn’t put it down. The story tells of 12-year-old Iris, who is the only deaf person at school and finds friendship in amongst the crackles and vibrations of the broken radios that she is a genius at fixing. Through the novel, the author demonstrates what day to day life is like for Iris and how she copes with forming friendships and being part of school when her communication is different to the rest of the community.

Her life changes when, in what looks like an ordinary lesson, she learns about Blue 55. Blue 55 is a whale that travels the oceans looking for another whale to hear his song. For reasons well explained in the book, his song is like no other whale and so he is alone. Iris is determined to help him and has the technical know-how to reach out to him. The novel charts her progress on this trip of a lifetime. Running parallel to the main story are those of Iris’ grandma, grieving after the loss of her husband and a story by Blue 55 himself.

The book deals with the complex issues of communication, friendship, grief and loneliness with sensitivity and heart. The author also describes whale relationships and communication with authority and clarity. It certainly made me want to book an arctic cruise! At the back of the book is an interesting ‘Author’s Note’ which explains the true stories behind this fictional account and the real ‘Blue 55’.

This would make a fabulous ‘read-aloud’ book in Y4-6 classrooms as well as a good novel for 10 and 11 yr olds to get stuck into. It would support topics on wildlife, travel, global issues, friendship, grief, ourselves and others…and so many more. Even without any curriculum links it is a truly engaging read – an absolute must for all UKS2 classrooms.


You can order Song for a Whale online or from your local bookshop or library.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Emma for reviewing it.


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