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

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,555 ratings  ·  378 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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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  2,555 ratings  ·  378 reviews

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Jul 19, 2013 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 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 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
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 16, 2013 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.
Linda Gill
Sep 18, 2013 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
Jan 22, 2013 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
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
Washington Post
Jul 09, 2013 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
Jan 22, 2013 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..."
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.
Donna Mork
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful lyrical book about a boy waiting to see a whale. It lists all the things you shouldn't do, like nap and watch other things and look at the clouds in the sky because then you might miss the whale. It has a dog in it the whole time, so it's a winner.
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I'm not sure why I love this so much, but it is honestly just so beautiful and tranquil. It has such an old fashioned quality to it.
Sep 03, 2013 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 11, 2013 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
Jan 22, 2014 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
Alyssa Gergins
Feb 05, 2014 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
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
Jul 06, 2013 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
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
A wistful picture book about watching, waiting and eventually being rewarded. The phrasing is lyrical in mood and intent -- perfect for this simple story of a boy and his dog whale-watching. But this book is so much more. It is a metaphor for patience, mystery, dreams and ultimately faith. A beautiful poem for all ages.
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love the slow pace of this story with words that seem more like poetry then text.
The illustrations feature a boy and a basset hound. The drawings look so soft and sweet.
I am always a sucker for a basset hound.
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A little boy patiently seeks out a whale. The simple, peaceful color palette quietly evokes his pursuit.
Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this one. It's very sweet. And any book with a dog is okay with me. It would make a great bedtime story!
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I used this as a writing prompt for a teen writing group and they absolutely loved it. The results were terrific too.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A thoughtful book for quiet times, good for teachers who ask for books on patience.
Ⓟⓔⓐⓒⓗⓨ Ⓚⓔⓔⓝ Ⓡⓔⓐⓓⓢ
The author is local and I got to meet her! I also love Erin. E Stead! Great collaboration.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-read-aloud
Beautiful illustrations. Just beautiful. Fun, imaginative story. Love it.
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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.

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