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A Whale in Paris

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  59 reviews
A hopeful and heroic girl befriends a small, lost whale during World War II and together they embark on a journey to liberate France and find their families in this charming debut novel.

Ever since the Germans became the unwelcome “guests” of Paris in the early days of World War II, Papa and Chantal have gone out in the evenings to fish in the Seine. Tonight Chantal is hopi
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  194 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars for this beautiful tale of a girl in WW II Paris who befriends a whale.

A big thank you to Atheneum and Edelweiss for a digital ARC of this upcoming release.

Chantal is motherless and helps her father go night fishing on the Seine just after D Day. She discovers a whale in the river. Even though no one believes her at first, she persists and makes friends with the whale naming him Franklin after the U.S. president. Despite the joy the Parisians experience over the D Day victories, the re
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book awoken so much emotions in me:love, anger, happiness, sadness, action, friendship. This book is awesome! :)
A lower middle grade story about the power of friendship and love during WWII. I enjoyed the historical tidbits sprinkled throughout and Chantal's friendship with the whale was heartwarming. The parts about the war were grim without being too scary or graphic for an MG reader. Overall, a solid MG historical.

I received an ARC at ALA midwinter.
Kelly Veatch
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Even though it was in the middle of Paris during the German occupation of World War II, it was such a sweet story! This is definitely one I will recommend to my students this year.
Dorothy Rice
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved A Whale in Paris. I bought the book with my young grandchildren in mind but wanted to read it first to make sure it was appropriate and found myself immersed in the story and the characters. The time and place, World War II in Paris during the German occupation felt both true to that time but also relevant to where we find ourselves today, with so many seeming to veer towards intolerance and hatred. I appreciated the authors skilled handling of the characters - these are not stereotypes. ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
It’s Paris, 1944, and the war is still ongoing. Despite the fact that there are whispers in the streets of the the Allies coming, the “guests” are still very much present. Chantal Duprey often wonders how the Allies will come, so it is no surprise that while fishing one night with her father, a fishmonger, a strange sound comes from the Seine. But… this sound is different than what a submarine should sound like. In fact, this sound is big and has a fin. A whale in in the Seine! As Chantal grows ...more
Laura Noakes
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
A very sweet, classic-feeling MG book with a unique premise & great execution to boot.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story is one of those that is perfect for reading aloud or reading alone, one that I so wish had been written when my children were school-aged.

A plucky heroine befriends a lovable whale during WWII in Paris and a page-turning adventure ensues as they join together to reunite with their families. A very unique tale among so many from this historical backdrop.

"It was enough to love and be loved, the most powerful force in the world." Love brought them together and became the driving force
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Paris, ukulele music, historical WWII setting: what more could one want in a book? And the story line was everything I wanted it to be. 5 stars.
4.5 stars. Much better than I had expected as neither war stories, nor animal stories tend to call to me. However, this was a sweet, fantastical story that seemed *almost* plausible and I enjoyed reading it very much.
Claire Polders
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: middle-grade
I love this book, but I'm biased. Along with my husband, I dreamed and talked and wrote this novel into existence. So obviously, I love this story about a heroic girl who befriends a lost whale, questions (male) authority, defends the ones in need, overcomes her fears, and helps liberate her country. The circumstances are often dark—occupation, war, hunger, camps—but our heroine persists, because she never loses faith in the power of friendship and love. I’m grateful to Erin McGuire who illustra ...more
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book together with my 9-year-old daughter and we both loved it. Chantal's experiences in occupied Paris brought up numerous issues for discussion and I could see my daughter's mind opening with many possibilities she hadn't previously considered. It gave her an opportunity to learn about World War II and Paris on a level that was exactly right. Franklin the whale is enchanting, and the authors do a terrific job of moving the story forward with plenty of plot twists that will keep bot ...more
Lindy MacLaine
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely story! The allure of a personal bond with a whale... Plus a fine piece of WWII France historical fiction.
Kelly Green's
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A heart warming tale of an unlikely friendship and the spirit of never giving up hope. This tale of a young girl befriending a whale trapped in the Seine in Paris during World War I is very well written and keeps the readers attention at every turn of events. With a multitude of lessons for every age this story is sure to be one that readers will remember.
Allison Parker
Since the German occupation of Paris, Chantal's life has grown dimmer, quieter, and hungrier each day. She and her Papa must fish in the Seine to survive, and the fish aren't biting. Chantal discovers a surprising reason for the lack of fish: a whale has appeared in the river, far upstream from its home. The whale becomes a source of amusement, hope, and even resistance in this gentle, whimsical WWII adventure for children. A good choice for elementary-aged kids who'd like a war story that isn't ...more
Kati Polodna
3.5 almost 4 stars. Because honestly how can you not be charmed by a whale in Paris during WWII? Received at ALA Midwinter 2018.
Oda Anderberg
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Something sweet that everyone needs to taste sometimes :)
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this book, a world war 2 story involving a whale and a girl who plays the ukulele for the whale, what more do you need? I would read this again.
May 09, 2020 rated it liked it
This middle grade novel takes place in German occupied Paris during WWII. Chantal lives with her father, a fishmonger. She helps him by going fishing with him. One night, they are out and they catch no fish. This has never happened before. Chantal hears a strange noise and discovers a whale in the Seine. Chantal can't believe it. She forms a special relationship with the whale, who she names Franklin. At first people are amazed and fascinated by Franklin - especially the kids who are given rides ...more
Deanna Holdsworth
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of Chantal and her family which consists of her father, aunt and a whale named Franklin.
It is Paris during WWII and the German Army has taken over the city. Chantal's family used to sell fish and were known to always have the best fish. However, as Chantal and her father fish as night no fish are being caught. While playing her ukulele one night she notices a Whale in the Seine!? When she tells others nobody believes her so she plays her ukulele during the day and others see Fr
This book is full of emotions (yes, I cried) both happy and sad, war and family. I thought that the focus on Chantal and Franklin was a nice distraction whole the war story was told alongside it. It is a good introduction to what war was like for many people for my 7.5 yr old.

This book was in our BYL Reading Crate about WW2.
I'm using this for the 2019 BYL Reading Challenge in the A book featuring aquatic life category.
Sep 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: paris, france
I like the setting and the characters and the idea of a whale befriending a girl but it stretched credulity so much, with riding the whale and dodging German bullets and airplanes, and so much more...I can’t recommend it. Too bad!
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read aloud to my 5th grader and we loved it
Tiffani Reads
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this story, and while it may not be on the believable side of historical fiction it is a story that kids would enjoy.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Such a cute story! Franklin is adorable!
Elisabeth Britton
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this to my daughter and it is really quite beautiful. The similes and metaphors are gorgeous and not forced. We both enjoyed it immensely.
Hugo James
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is suspenseful, exciting and magical. Your personality comes from your heart not your uniform or country.
Doug Glenning
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great novel with an easy flow for the reader and a heart warming storyline about the importance of family and caring for others!
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grade-4
This book is basically about this little girl named Chantal who meets a whale in the Seine which is very unexpected. Soon Chantal makes friends with the whale however her father doesn’t. There is a problem. Chantal and the rest of their city can’t get any salmon because the whale keeps eating it. Soon German orders came. When GERMAN orders came it wasn’t good at all. However Chantal makes friends with one of the German soldiers, and he even gave her yummy food. Chantal’s aunt didn’t think Chanta ...more
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book has the the themes of courage, love for family, and promises.
Set in WW2, when a whale turns up in the seine in Paris, France. Chantel, sets out on a journey never to forget. A little bit of fantasy also. But a meaningful story to be read.
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