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If You Want to See a Whale
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If You Want to See a Whale

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,974 Ratings  ·  313 Reviews
If you want to see a whale, you will need to know what not to look at.
Pink roses, pelicans, possible pirates . . .
If you want to see a whale, you have to keep your eyes on the sea, and wait . . .
and wait . . . and wait . . .
In this quiet and beautiful picture book by Julie Fogliano and Erin E. Stead, the team that created the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor book And Then It's
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Roaring Brook Press (first published 2013)
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Journey by Aaron BeckerThe Day the Crayons Quit by Drew DaywaltThe Dark by Lemony SnicketFlora and the Flamingo by Molly IdleMr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter  Brown
2014 Mock Caldecott
12th out of 79 books — 223 voters
The Dark by Lemony SnicketThat Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo WillemsUnicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob SheaFlora and the Flamingo by Molly IdleExclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2013
11th out of 99 books — 112 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 23, 2015 Karissa rated it it was amazing
This book is so lovely in every way. The illustrations are outstanding- I loved to look for all the little details (like the boy's feet anxious on the stool, or where that little bird was hiding). The palette is so beautifully serene: the muted colors emphasize how peaceful the ocean (and nature) can be.

I didn't fall in love with the story the first time I read through. I thought it was cute, but didn't understand it. As an artist, writer, reader, and hobby-marine biologist though, I bought it f
Another marvelous picture book from the team that created And Then It's Spring, this title is filled with repetitive lines "if you want to see a whale..." (unpaged) that have an almost meditative quality to them. Even while the story's two characters, a boy and his dog, wait patiently for a whale, there are many other objects to distract them. The advice to ignore everything else while they are waiting for that whale may be good advice, but they seem to be savoring the joys of the rest of the wo ...more
Ying Lee
Aug 12, 2013 Ying Lee rated it really liked it
This is a lovely and peaceful book that portrays a boy and his dog waiting to see a whale. They look out the window, try to figure out what a whale might look like and not to fall asleep, ignore beautiful roses, other passing ships, sitting pelicans,small things, and drifting clouds, and WAIT. Wait till the big whale comes. I like this story as I read it first time, for its layers of meaning. Young children will enjoy the illustrations, especially the dog, clouds, and the whale. Older students m ...more
Jesus Christ. I thought I'd seen my favorite couple of picture books for the year, and then here comes this one. SO bedtimey, SO not-bedtimey, all about observation and appreciation of the flawless little miracles that make up the natural world - clouds, bugs, birds, pirate ships... and roses.

if you want to see a whale
you'll have to just ignore the roses
and all their pink
and all their sweet
and all their wild and their waving
because roses don't want you watching whales
or waiting for
or wondering a
Clare Cannon
Aug 01, 2013 Clare Cannon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 04-8yrs
A peaceful, serene picture book about a little boy who wants to see a whale, and who must resist lots of delightful distractions that try to turn him away from his goal. And yet the book is just as much about the distractions: the pink, sweet, wild and waving roses; the ship way out there with its red flag flapping; the pelican who may or may not be smiling; the small, green something that inches across a leaf; and the clouds floating by in the spread out sky. By waiting and watching and noticin ...more
May 22, 2013 Allison rated it it was amazing
This charming little picture book hit me in all the right places. It shares a theme of patience with Fogliano and Stead's last collaboration, And Then it was Spring, but I have to say I thought this one was better. Whales just might be my favorite animal and I cherished the thoughtful quiet feel of this story as the little boy tells the readers all the things not to do if you want to see a whale. The color palate is just perfect and I have to say I think I have found my pick for Caldecott 2014.
May 10, 2013 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
The incredible partnership that brought you And Then It’s Spring last year has recreated a similar magic in their second book together. In this book, a young boy heads to the sea to try to spot a whale. There are things that you must have to see a whale, one is time to wait and another is a way to not get too comfortable and doze off while waiting. There are also things that you must ignore, like sweet pink roses that want you to look at them or boats that are floating by or insects crawling in ...more
Sep 18, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing
From page to page, Ms. Fogliano takes us on a quiet journey looking for a whale. You know those huge sea creatures that should be easy to spot? But, oh, so much can get in the way. A young boy, in a large ocean, looking for an elusive whale.... It all begins with a desire. What is needed to find a whale? What is not needed to find a whale? What are the distractions that keep one from finding this large gray creature? And what was it that was being looked for anyway? Patience and focus are two of ...more
Julie Fogliano's If You Want To See A Whale is a sweet and lovely story about patience and noticing the beautiful world around us. Fogliano's unnamed male character and his trusty dog sidekick set out to see a whale and end up seeing more than they ever expected.

Fogliano writes in simple, yet enchanting verses that paint vivid pictures full of imagination. Little readers will be so enraptured by the things that the young boy and is dog do see that they won't even mind waiting until the very end
Jan 12, 2014 Erica rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Washington Post
Jul 09, 2013 Washington Post rated it it was amazing
The word “see” is the key to this minimalist tale whose poetic text seems, on the surface at least, to be simultaneously elusive and precise: “If you want to see a whale/ you will need a window/ and an ocean/ and time for waiting/ and time for looking/ and time for wondering ‘is that a whale?’ ” To find a picture book that attempts to explore the patient, persistent and solitary pursuit at the heart of creativity is unusual; to find one that succeeds in making such an abstract process comprehens ...more
May 13, 2013 Deborah added it
Shelves: picturebooks
Oh my, just when I thought that certainly I own *enough* books illustrated by Erin Stead... THIS. Julie Fogliano just may be the second coming of Ruth Krauss, with this text. Both words and pictures are wonderfully poetic, balanced just perfectly, and both leave just the right amount of space for the reader's own imagination to blossom, like "the roses/and all their pink/and all their sweet/and all their wild and their waving..."
Alyssa Gergins
Feb 05, 2014 Alyssa Gergins rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This beautiful and simple picture book made me grin from ear to ear. The first thing that impressed me was the outlining and details made with the pencil. I loved the white backgrounds with the soft color of the ocean and a pop of color throughout each page. It made something new come out every time I turned the page. The writing was simple and easy to follow going perfectly along with each picture. It was almost as though Fogliano mentioned all the things not to look at so that the reader would ...more
The Styling Librarian
If you want to see a whale by Julie Fogliano, pictures by Erin E. Stead – Wonderful pacing and imaginative and at the same time the book helps you think about how to focus in on what you really want to do, to accomplish.
Jan 22, 2014 Cathy rated it really liked it
This book was on my Mock Newbery club shortlist for the 2014 Newbery award. The big day for this years Newbery is January 27 and I've been thoroughly enjoying the best of children's literature published in 2013. This book is a lovely poem with charming illustrations. For what it is, it is perfect. I still lean toward a different type of book for the award However, officially the Newbery award is for "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children". This book is short and ...more
Oct 14, 2013 katie rated it really liked it
This lovely picturebook is appropriate for the Nursery/Primary audiences. It tells the quiet story of a boy and his dog waiting to catch a glimpse of a whale. There is little action, just waiting and watching, but in the meantime, the boy and his dog see lots of other magical and wonderful things, like bugs on grass, and a pelican, and roses, and quiet, lovely things like that. The language is poetic and sweet, at times spare, always beautiful, like this my favorite line: "because sleeping eyes ...more
Dec 13, 2013 Samuel rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
It seems to me that the text of If You Want to See a Whale does several things extremely well, and a few things maybe not as well. The sound of the book when read aloud is fantastic -- Julie Fogliano has a keen ear for alliteration and assonance, and lines such as the ones in which she describes clouds "in the sky that's spread out, side to side" are a joy just to say. The ending of the book in the text is also beautifully ambiguous, fading out on the lines "and wait... / and wait... / and wait. ...more
Jun 24, 2013 Betsy rated it really liked it
This team's book And Then It's Spring was one of my favorites last year, so I was anxious to get my hands on this one. They've created another lovely quiet book about patience! This one is nearly as marvelous as their other one, but I must confess: the roses page didn't work for me. Something about it just knocked me out of the story each time I read it.

If my children are any indication, though, it's not a problem for them. My little contemplative reader who likes to look at a book, pore over it
Feb 25, 2016 Inge rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A thoughtful book for quiet times, good for teachers who ask for books on patience.
Yeah, this will be one I will have to purchase. Hard to tell what I like best about this book; the stellar illustrations (I think the first one, with the little boy sitting on the stool curling his toes is probably my favorite) or the very fun-to-read text ('If you want to see a whale be careful not to notice something inching, small and green across the leaf, just nibble scoot because things that are smaller than most small things can't be as giant as a whale") - I think I want to add 'nibble s ...more
. اليازية خليفة
حالمة.. للغاية..

عندما ترى حوتاً.. تذكّرني..
Jun 29, 2015 Annadella rated it it was amazing
someone buy this book for me it is perfect
Mar 26, 2014 babyhippoface rated it liked it
You don't just waltz out onto a boat, zip out into the ocean, and see a whale. It's just not that easy. It takes time, and lots of patience.

For me, Erin Stead's illustrations are the best part of this book. They are spare but have a quiet, lovely quality. Fogliano's writing is occasionally lyrical but sometimes the thoughts feel disconnected. I do like this one better than the previous Fogliano/Stead book that everyone else in the world loved except me (And Then It's Spring) and I think it would
Kaitlyn Phipps
If You Want to See a Whale advises you as a reader to follow certain steps in order to see a whale. It is no easy task and takes a lot of dedication. Most importantly, you need a window and an ocean to begin with. It is also important to have time for watching for a whale. Then, you must make sure to stay awake and not get too comfortable because falling asleep would not do you much good. The book then continues with these tips so that the reader may just get to see a whale.

Because this book is
*Starred Review* In this gorgeous love song to the imagination, a little boy and his trusty basset hound want nothing more than to catch a glimpse of a whale. If you want to see a whale, there are certain things you’ll need, like a window looking out on a vast ocean. You’ll need plenty of patience, too: “time for waiting / and time for looking / and time for wondering, ‘is that a whale?’’’ You might be distracted by miraculous things along the way, like the sweet, fragrant smell of pink roses or ...more
Bambini Travel
Dec 15, 2014 Bambini Travel rated it it was amazing
I am sucked into Julie Fogliano's simple style of writing and Erin E Stead's whimsical way of illustrating. This book follows a darling boy and his faithful dog as they wait to see a whale. Written as a sort of "how to" guide, the narrator carefully describes that if you want to see a whale, you must focus and wait. A gentle humor informs you that one cannot be distracted by the roses or potentially boat filled pirates or ever changing clouds. If you really want to see a whale you must have an i ...more
If you want to see a whale is a story about a young boy who patiently waits to see a whale. The little boy explains everything you need to do in order to see the whale. The little boy also explains everything you can’t do if you want to see the whale. After making sure the little boy does everything correctly to get the best chance at seeing the whale, he waits. The boy patiently waits, and waits, and waits, until he finally sees the whale. This story teaches young children about patience. It te ...more
Jim Erekson
Feb 13, 2014 Jim Erekson rated it really liked it
Hands down I would have picked this one for the Caldecott, out of all those on the lists. Fogliano and Stead were already on my radar for And Then It's Spring from 2012.

Three points.
1. Most of the Caldecott hopefuls seem to know they are hopefuls (whether it was the author/illustrator, or just the editor), and so in one way or another it feels like they are trying to win an award and not necessarily to write a great picturebook. That's disappointing--but not so with this book! Lu and I are tal
Kendrick Goodman
Specifically talking about the story involved, this is a very simplistic plot line informing the reader how exactly to find a whale if you are looking for one. The story is cute and straight forward. What really drew me into this book were the illustrations by Erin Stead. Knowing that she is a current well renown children's book illustrator, I was looking froward to looking at the illustrations in this book. To my pleasure, I proved to not be disappointed by her work. With each pair of pages ded ...more
Megan Laird
Feb 05, 2014 Megan Laird rated it really liked it
Shelves: group-3-reads
While the story takes a few reads to truly grasp the beauty, Julie Fogliano does an excellent job at portraying the power of observation and patience when encountering life. If You Want to See a Whale is an inspiring story of all the encounters you could be distracted by while looking for the desired whale, but in the end, you must be patient and "keep your eyes on the sea." However, it was not just the beauty in Fogliano's words that brought my heart warmth, but the illustrations by Erin E. St ...more
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Julie Fogliano has spent her entire life reading children's books. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and three children.
More about Julie Fogliano...

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