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The Fisherman & the Whale

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  251 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Jessica Lanan’s dreamy and dramatic watercolor paintings bring to life a wordless story about wonder in the natural world.

A fisherman takes his son for a trip out on the water. When they encounter a whale entangled at sea, they realize a connection that transcends the animal kingdom.
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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Although Jessica Lanan's picture book The Fisherman & the Whale depicts a both at first painful and then heartwarming wordless story of how one fisherman (and mostly at his young son's insistence) detangles a whale caught in and held fast by rogue fishing gear (and albeit that I have certainly found Lanan's illustrations both aesthetically luminous and emotionally charged), there are nevertheless two main and seriously problematic issues which I for one have encountered in The Fisherman & the Wh ...more
Lily Williams
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I got to see the final of this book early and WOW! A beautiful and poignant tale of a fisherman and his son who find a whale caught in a fishing net. Is it their net? You are not sure. Ghost nets are a real thing and with whales washing up deceased with stomachs filled with plastic... this book feels like a timely reminder of ways we can do better as a society to protect our whales and oceans.

In this wordless picture book, Jessica Lanan's illustrations speak for themselves. Her artwork has so mu
Mary Lee
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous illustrations. Hopeful message. Child who urges adult to do the right thing. (When are we adults going to start doing the right things on our own?)
Bonnie Lambourn
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
This is a wordless picture book, and as such the artwork is brilliant in realism and dynamic effect.

I am in some conflict giving it a 4, instead of a 5 - always want to root for the amazing illustrations. It was these 5 details that made it a 4 for me:

1] I found it a little awkward when the page turned to see which way to turn it, felt like it should go the other way perhaps, although in one it seemed to work both vertically and horizontally so an illustration choice perhaps to not tip it the w
Excellent illustrations, but I think the content leaves quite a bit to be desired. I like that she addresses some of the inaccurate visual content in the afterword, but just the idea of a person approaching an entangled whale is absolutely nuts. So dangerous! She addresses at the end, but even for the purposes of the narrative I didn't care for it.
Taylor Sosebee
A whale is trapped by a fishing net. While the whale is trapped, a boy and his Dad are out in the ocean fishing. The little boy see's the whale and asks the Dad if they could go help him. At first the Dad says no, but the child begs until the Dad says yes and they go over to help the whale. The Dad jumps into the water with the whale and cuts the fishing net. The whale is saved.

I loved this book. The amazing Illustrations told the story in a way that I never thought imaginabl
Miss Sarah
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it
A wordless book about a fisherman and his son who accidently catch a whale and try to help him. Nice author afterward. Elementary and up
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
A wordless picture book showing what happens when a fisherman takes his son out on a fishing trip and they find a whale in trouble. They don't leave but try to rescue the animal. The pictures lead the story and show what they try and would be fun to have a child tell what they think is happening and why.
A wordless fable on fishing and the danger it poses for animals like whales. In the story the fisherman and his son save a whale caught in the net. The author cautions that this is a story and not they way it should be handled in real life.
A fisherman and his son ensnare a whale in their creel line while fishing for lobster, prawns and crabs. This wordless book shows the effort it takes to free the whale, and the environmental hazards and harm that can occur in commercial fishing.
Edward Sullivan
A cinematic, compelling, wordless tale. See also The Boy and the Whale by Mordicai Gerstein.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, picture, kids
meh, far fetched
Sep 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Wordless picture book with gorgeous illustrations. Lofty message for a children’s picture book but since it’s wordless it can be adapted to any audience.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was immediately drawn to this book because it reminded me of Sophie Blackwell's 2019 Caldecott winning, "Hello Lighthouse." I was unaware that this picture book was wordless, but just from the title spread I was hooked. The illustrations are the story, so it is a good thing that they were done so wonderfully. Lanan used watercolor and gouache on Saunders Waterford paper and affectively varies between illustration coverage, including full spread, circular sectioned, full page, and even a few ve ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story about a man and a younger boy, who we presume to be his son, going on a fishing trip. We are able to gain insight on two different situations occurring in the story simultaneously, as the father and son fish, there is a whale who is getting caught up in the fishing equipment and won't be able to escape on his own. The son takes notice of this and tries his best to alert his father, who isn't aware of the gravity of the situation at first. There is a very powerful moment in this story ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
The Fisherman & the Whale by Jessica Lanan. PICTURE BOOK. Simon & Schuster, 2019. $18. 9781534415744.



In a wordless story told in beautiful watercolors, a boy and his fisherman father notice a large baleen whale caught in fishing line. The father swims out and frees the whale from the nets and tackle.

I'm blanking on titles, but I have previously seen a few different books telling a story nearly identical to this. The illustrations are
Amanda Brown
This wordless picture book showed the story of a fisherman and his son. As they are fishing, a whale gets stuck in their net. The fisherman was brave and helped the whale. He jumped in the water and was able to set the whale free.

This story is a great picture book. The pictures did a great job portraying the story without using words. It was easy to understand what was happening. The pictures focus and colors were intentional and did a great job to show the tone that it was
Hannah Stark
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a gorgeous wordless book! The colors, the perspectives, the suspense. There are so many beautiful and very memorable spreads! My four year old son is an animal lover and was CAPTIVATED by this book. He actively narrated each spread as we turned the pages together and then "reread" The Fisherman and the Whale three more times immediately after. I think he's as big of a fan as his mom is!
Martha Meyer
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? Stunning. Gorgeous. A lovely wordless tale about the connection between a fisherman, his son and a whale. A parable for our times. The back matter makes it clear that this is not a how to on whale rescue and that trained professionals should do it. Kids have an instant connection to the story. They can tell it along with you since the book is wordless. Don't miss this one. One of my Top Ten Nature Books of 2018 & 19. ...more
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With lush paintings that could hang in a gallery next to Winslow Homer works and not a single word (except for the excellent back matter), author-illustrator Jessica Lanan shares a touching tale of a deep connection between human and cetacean. I believe the key to saving our world is to foster inter- and intra-species empathy and this book provides a way to show kids how. While it’s a picture book, it is also beautiful enough to be a coffee table book!
Marcie Flinchum
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The wordless book captures the beauty of the ocean and the reality of human impact on the wild creatures of the ocean. The illustrations in this book are stunning. It is a great book to begin a discussion on environmental impact. An author’s note in the end gives some context for young readers and leads them to more information. Highly recommend.
Richard Ho
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Breathtaking watercolors paint a touching tale of empathy and humanity’s impact on the natural world—both harmful and helpful. A father and son on a fishing boat encounter a whale tangled in fishing lines. At the urging of his son, the father dives in to free the whale, and earns a spectacular display of gratitude in return. A beautiful book in every way!
Mrs. Mazzola
Loved! Beautiful wordless story that would appeal to animal lovers, aspiring environmentalists, and really any empathetic person. The close-ups on the facial expressions of the whale and the people are particularly evocative. The author's note is an important explanation of the best/safest ways to help our planet and should be included in any sharing of this story.
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
Tale of grand proportions: the greatest gestures we can make to protect those who might initially seem beyond our reach, with illustrations that intentionally reflect the great depths of a child’s capacity to care. And yet, there’s a stillness, a silence that is so suiting. Not always that a wordless book can captivate both child and adult reader.
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
Illustrations are beautiful. Loved the way she depicted water--its depth and nuances of color, etc. Some nice angles and unique perspectives represented too. But the story... the author says this is more of a fable, but it didn't really read that way until the moralizing author's note. Didn't quite work for me.
Grace Davis
Nov 30, 2019 added it
Shelves: books-1-20
Summary: This wordless book takes you on a journey with a fisherman and his son. What will happen when they encounter a great whale?
Evaluation: This book was emotionally moving. It was beautiful without words.
Teaching Idea: I would use this book when talking with my students about different ways to communicate. It is a great example of nonverbal communication.
Beautiful watercolor illustrations tell the story of a father and son in a fishing excursion who rescue a whale caught in fishing nets. Interesting "don't try this at home" message in the end notes. Overall, a good message of the impact of humans on the natural world and reminder that we are all responsible for this earth we call home.
Juliana Lee
Wordless picture book tells the story of a whale who gets caught in a fisherman's net. The young boy convinces his father to go back and rescue the whale. The father dives into the ocean and cuts the whale free. After the father gets back on the boat, the whale breaches and waves goodbye.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Visually gorgeous, this is a powerful testament to the connection between humans and animals. We all survive by honoring one another. I hope this book inspires kids to see how their own stewardship of our environment can change the world.
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wordless picture book. Way out to sea, a whale gets tangled in a fisherman's net. When a young boy notices he tries to persuade his father to help but he's worried about the time. Finally as they draw nearer to the whale, the boy's father understands that this whale really needs his help.
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Jessica Lanan has long been enchanted by the mysteries of the cosmos. Exoplanets are too far away for her to visit, but illustrating them is the next best thing. Jessica currently lives in her native state of Colorado with her husband, three-legged cat, and baby daughter, who was born during the making of Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet.

Jessica's illustrations can also be found in

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