Hello, Baby Beluga
Darrin Lunde, author
Darrin Lunde has worked as a mammalogist at the American Museum of Natural History and at the Smithsonian Institute. His work has brought him into contact with all kinds of animals, big and small, throughout the remote forests of South America, Africa, and Asia where he camped for months at a time to survey species diversity and to discover new species. He is the author of Hello, Bumblebee Bat, a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor Book, After the Kill, and other books about animals. He lives in Washington, DC.
Read more about Darrin.
Patricia Wynne, illustrator
Patricia Wynne is a well-known scientific illustrator whose art has been included in many collections and exhibited around the country. Her detailed illustrations have appeared in 90 books, including The Body Book, Tropical Rain Forest, and Hello, Bumblebee Bat, a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor Book. Patricia lives in New York City.
Read more about Patricia.
Lunde and Wynne pair up for the third time (Meet the Meerkat, 2007, etc.), here acquainting the youngest animal lovers with facts about the beluga whale. As in their previous books, the author sticks to a question-and-answer format: "Baby Beluga, how do you live in the cold water? / I have a layer of fat to keep me warm. I breathe through a hole in the top of my head." Basic questions about habitat, appearance, diet, adaptations and social behavior are answered in simple language well suited to both preschoolers and beginning readers. Back matter includes a few additional facts about belugas, including the fascinating tidbit that these whales are never fully asleep-parts of their brains take turns staying awake. While the trim size is not strikingly large, Wynne's whales fill the right-hand pages, making them easy to share with a group. Appropriate for the audience, her illustrations are accurate, just detailed enough not to overwhelm, and her characters appear to be smiling throughout. Even the topic of predation is dealt with in a relatively nonthreatening way: "Baby Beluga, what do you fear? / I am afraid of orca whales and polar bears. They try to eat me." While the artwork does show a crouching polar bear, it is a ways removed from the water and wears a neutral expression. A solid addition for the youngest naturalists.
School Library Journal
Baby Beluga swims in the ocean while answering nine questions about himself and his kind. After describing his appearance ("I am five feet long./My skin is dark gray./It will turn white like my mother's/when I am older"), and home ("I live in the Arctic Ocean./I like cold water"), he raises his head out of the water to demonstrate how he breathes, makes sounds, and watches for enemies. Underwater, he drinks milk from his mother and swims with his pod. Single-page illustrations of Baby Beluga in an iceberg-spotted ocean appear next to sky-blue pages of questions and answers until it's time to say goodnight. The story ends with a two-page close-up of the beluga and a multicolored sunset with 10 additional facts about these whales superimposed on it. Realistic illustrations rendered in watercolor, ink, colored pencil, and pastels complement the facts. After learning about these creatures, children can sing along with Raffi as you read his Baby Beluga (Knopf, 1990).
Young children love cute critters and there's nothing cuter in the ocean than a baby beluga whale. After reading this picture book preschoolers will know some basic facts about these usual mammals.
They learn that the baby beluga is born gray but will turn white like its parents as it matures. It lives in the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean, breathes through a hole in the top of its head, and can swim backward as well as upside down.
The large illustrations in various shades of blue, gray and white that accompany the question and answer narrative are not only pleasing on the eye, but they will also focus the child's attention on the main character and the book's simple content.