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Abigail the Whale

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Abigail dreads swimming lessons. Every time she dives into the pool, she makes a big splash, and all the girls in her class shout: “Abigail’s a whale!” Abigail can see that she is larger than the other girls. She feels huge, heavy, and out of place.

Abigail’s swimming teacher takes her aside and points out: we can change how we see ourselves. He offers a creative visualizat
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Owlkids Books (first published February 25th 2010)
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4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  187 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Abigail hates to swim. She always tries to be the last in the line, because she knows what is coming. When she dives in her body, which she sees large, big, and heavy, makes a huge wave, and everybody starts saying "Abigail is a whale!". Oh, how she hates to swim!
Things changes the day her swimming teacher tells her that "we are what we think", and that if she wants to swim light, she has to think light. Abigail decides to give it a try, and actually when she thinks water she feels liquid, and s
Karen R
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a cute story, beautifully illustrated, with a hopeful message!
"You are what you think" can apply to adults too, helping people overcome their fears and difficult situations. I loved how Abigail rose above the bullying, kicking out the negative image with the positive, gaining new self confidence. She's a brave and beautiful example for everyone.
Recommend for younger children and up. Made me want to stand up and cheer, "Go Abigail!"
4.5 stars

(An e-book copy was provided by NetGalley and th
Jillian Heise
I really liked this book about Abigail who is made fun of at swim class for being fat so she thinks she's too heavy to swim. But her coach helps her see that positive self talk/thinking can change perspective and help us see ourselves in the way we think. I was left slightly unsatisfied by the ending because although Abigail proves the other kids wrong when they think she won't go off the diving board, and she reclaims the word that was used against her, we don't see anything happen to address t ...more
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book, kidlit
Abigail dreaded swimming class. The kids teased her for making a splash as big as a whale. Things changed when her swimming teacher taught her that changing how she sees herself could make others see her differently also.

This is a cute picture book with adorable illustrations by Sonja Bougaeva. It was written in a language other than English, and was translated by Marlene Baleine. Most of it translated well, except referring to the "changing room" as "change room".

I enjoyed the story until the l
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this picture book, but I have too many problems with it. Abigail is a bit chunky, but she suffers through swim class every week. She hates it, partially because "all the other kids teased her, saying, 'Abigail is a whale!'" Her swim teacher is pretty obtuse and asks her, "What's wrong, Abigail? Don't you like swimming?" Of course she doesn't like to swim!! You sit there and watch her get bullied and teased every week!! The book redeems itself slightly when the teacher sug ...more
Nov 27, 2017 added it
Shelves: picture-books
Ambivalent on this one. I loved the positivity, annoyed that the bullying isn't addressed. I get that the focus is on Abigail and not the other kids, but even looking at it that way the swim teacher being obtuse about why she hates swimming gets me.
Aug 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a picture book about working with what you have. In this case Abigail is fat. When she jumps in the pool she makes waves and is teased about it. Rather than telling her to lose weight, or to not jump in, or some other such nonsense, her teacher tells her to think of herself as light.

"We are what we think," her teacher said. "If you want to swim well, you have to think light. Do you suppose birds or fish think they're too heavy? Of course not!"

So Abigail starts imagining herself as thi
Jessica ☕
Aug 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-storybooks, arc
Abigail is a young lady embarrassed by the way her large frame displaces the water at her swimming class. Her peers heckle her, calling her a whale. Her swimming teacher does not interfere with the bullying, instead telling Abigail to imagine that she is smaller. "...if you want to feel light, think light!"

The rich imagination that this inspires in Abigail will hopefully encourage other children to excel beyond their expectations. However, it is disappointing to see the way her bullying is norm
Aug 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Abigail hates to go swimming because everyone calls her a whale. He coach tells her she just needs to think about what she wants to be and so it will happen. If you are scared, thing tall, and be tall, if you are swimming, think shark and splice through the water. You can be anything. I like the message in this book, but as a big girl myself, when I was her age I wouldn’t have thought be big, I would have tried to wish myself thin, so part of me doesn’t like the message (but that is just me). No ...more
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for a fair review.

A charming and beautifully illustrated book that touches on body issues and positive thoughts of ourselves and our abilities. The paintings are quite lovely. I loved Abigail's instructor but was troubled by the lack of consequences for the children bullying Abigail.

The book's message isn't a magic bullet against bullying, but it can help a child focus on positive ways to face the world and thrive, regardless of the issue that is
Donna Maguire
Having suffered bullying myself when I was at school, I know exactly the thoughts that Abigail has at the outset of this book. I really enjoyed it and wish I had been given the advice that Abigail receives. Its easy to follow and has a good undertone and overall message. Definitely one I would recommend for parents of children who are in the same position as I was all those years ago. Sadly bullying and comments like this are still common place in society, not just schools.
Shallowreader VaVeros
Abigail is learning to swim but is teased by the other children for being large. Abigail's imagination allows her to take charge of her own swimming skills and oh my what a gorgeous picture book. I loved it!
Dec 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Although I liked the message about the power of positive thinking, it really fell short for me in that the other kids (and the reader) aren't given any lesson about why being a fatphobic poop isn't OK in the first place.
I like where this was going, but I would have liked to have seen the bullying addressed.
Micaela Muldoon
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: younger-children
Note #1: The tone of this review is a bit academic because I did it for a children's literature course.
Note #2: I am an overweight woman myself, so this informed my perspective of the book.

This book is about an overweight girl named Abigail, who is teased by her classmates about her size whenever they have swimming lessons, especially when she jumps into the pool and makes a big splash. Their oh-so-original nickname for her? Whale. Her swimming teacher takes her aside and tells her to use visua
Katie Simmons
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Abigail goes to swimming lessons and believes that they are calling her a whale because of her size. (This is typically how I felt, when kids would say things to me.) Her swim instructor gave her a way of trying to see things differently. She finds out that when she looks at things differently, others will see her differently. In this book, Abigail finds out that her classmates are calling her a whale because of how good of a swimmer she could be.
Abigail reminds me of, well, me. Being larger in
Ashley M
*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Sometimes life isn't always easy. Sometimes what you need is someone to help you think of things from a different perspective. That's what happens to Abigail in this book, and amazing things happen. I loved this story because it shows how she overcame her problems by thinking differently. The illustrations add a fun and magical dimension to the story. I think this would be great in school libraries and classroo
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book" Abigail the Whale is great to read with lower elementary students to reinforce the anti-bullying that goes on in the school system today.

Awesome job to her coach giving her that positive self talk/thinking can change perspective and help us see ourselves in the way we think.

YAY Abigail! She finds that what she thinks is important, and she can help herself with her life’s challenges. It is very empowering to people of all ages to learn the power they possess to make a difference in thei
Oct 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
For a book about "bullying" it never shows kids that bullying is wrong. I did like that she kind of reclaimed being a whale, but this book is definitely a completely unnecessary addition to children's lit. Also, "She ate all her carrots at lunch. And Elliot smiled at her for the first time ever..." UGH WHYYY???
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book spoke out to me at the library today. What a beautiful reminder that "we are what we think." When Abigail changed her mindset, she lived a vibrant, joyful life... and she didn't have to lose weight to do it. Great lesson. I wish this book existed when I was young!
Una bambina più robusta degli altri, tanto da farle diventare un problema il suo sovrappeso. Bello il finale dove la bambina arriva a scherzare sul suo probema, però mi lascia molto perplesso il metodo usato per farle superare la difficoltà.
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
You are what you THINK! Go Abigail!
Robin Yardi
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great story about name calling and naming yourself, having power and confidence, and admitting you're awesome.
Ms Threlkeld
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
As an overweight kid, I would've totally related to Abigail's story. Important message about self-love.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Great book for teaching mindset!
Pensé que esto iba a ser muy "body positive" pero la verdad es que no sé qué pensar... Desde luego está bien para empezar una conversación en casa sobre el tema
Amy Nicole
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it

"We are what we think." -- Abigail takes this proverb literally in order to overcome name calling and meanness.
Stephanie Shaw
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A cute story about building confidence in yourself in the face of negative comments from others.
Es muy bueno, y algo peligroso.
Jennifer B.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such a sweet story of how a little girl who is chubby is bullied and shamed, and how she learns to not let it hold her back.
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Davide Cali (born 1972) is a Swiss-born Italian writer of picture books and graphic novels, primarily for children and young adults. He lives in Italy. His work has been published in twenty-five countries and translated into many languages.