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Song for A Whale

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  2,044 ratings  ·  442 reviews
A stirring and heart-warming tale of a young deaf girl who is determined to make a difference, the perfect read for fans of Wonder.

Iris was born deaf, but she's never let that define her; after all, it's the only life she's ever known. And until recently she wasn't even very lonely, because her grandparents are both deaf, too. But Grandpa has just died and Grandma's not
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 3rd 2019 by Piccadilly Books (first published February 5th 2019)
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this book quite a lot. I don't read middle-grade books very often but I think that may be something that I really need to change. I was drawn to this book as soon as I saw it and while that may due in part to the gorgeous cover, it was mostly the premise of the story that grabbed my attention. Every time I picked up this book, I quickly was lost in Iris's world. I really had a great time with this book.

Iris is a
Lisa Vegan
4-1/2 stars

In most ways I loved this book but I couldn’t quite give it 5 stars because of the point of view of the whale/other whales too. I couldn’t quite suspend disbelief and all the way through, once I hit page 76, I was eager to read the author’s notes at the end. While they were excellent, informative and interesting, I still couldn’t quite accept one aspect of the story, the fictional whale parts, even though I sort of adored that part of the story too. It’s just that the rest was such
I feel like I've been talking a lot lately about craving middle grade, and how good and underappreciated middle grade is. I came across a thread on Twitter a few days ago about why people like YA — and making a distinction between adult and YA — because it generally deals with serious issues with sense of hope. I think this is even more true of middle grade stories, and while some may take a saccharine route, many, if not most, strip issues back to an unltimately honest core without sacrificing ...more
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
What a beautiful story! We follow Iris, a young deaf girl, who learns about Blue 55, a whale who sings at a different frequency than any other whale. Blue 55 keeps singing and swimming even though he's not understood or accepted by other whale pods. Iris feels connected to Blue 55 and is determined to somehow help him know he is heard.

Iris is such an endearing character. She is lonely but not despairing. She has such a strength and is so loveable. I love how Kelly portrays deafness in this
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
Song For a Whale was such a wonderful story to read. I have always loved whales and being near the ocean. This story brought me just a bit closer through a 12 year-old girl named Iris. Iris is deaf and hardly has any friends at her school. She goes through most of her day alone and not fitting in. When she learns about a whale with a unique song in one of her classes she becomes obsessed with this whale.

Blue 55 is a fictional character in Kelly’s story but is based off of a real whale named 52
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
I've written, then deleted, at least four different versions of this review so far. Sometimes you pick up a story and it's so poignant, so important, that it's really hard to write anything resembling a coherent review. That's this book right here. Lynne Kelly has created something magical with Iris' story. It's not just the fact that she's a character who represents the Deaf community. It's not just the sweet way that she ties her passion for radios into communicating with someone who is just ...more
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting premise: a deaf 12-year old girl learns of the plight of a bi-species whale, who cannot communicate with others because its "song" is at a different frequency. Iris comes up with a great idea to send a song at 55 dB. While Iris is determined to help, she is also very self-centered and does not seem to care much for anyone else, except herself. She decides to head to Alaska on her own to see the whale, eventually teaming up with her grandmother, who is adrift, having recently lost her ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Song for a Whale is an adorable middle grade about Iris, a deaf girl, her family, and a whale. The author's experience as a sign language interpreter lends authenticity to the narrative. I can't speak to the deaf representation in the book, but Iris struggles not only with her dad who doesn't know sign language well, a classmate who thinks they can sign, and her feelings of isolation. Even though Iris has her best friend, a grandmother, and her ability to fix radios, she still feels isolated in ...more
Nicole Hewitt
This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction

This is one of those books that takes you into the heart and mind of a character whose experiences you might not be able to completely relate to—and you come out all the richer for it in the end.

The story focuses on Iris, a Deaf girl who struggles to communicate with many of the people around her and to find her place in a world that doesn’t seem to know how to define her. When she learns of a whale with a similar
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
SONG FOR A WHALE is another gem from the Juvenile Fiction shelves. It's the intelligent, thought-provoking story of Iris, a young Deaf girl who often feels disconnected from her parents and classmates and the connection and wonder she feels upon learning of Blue 55, a whale whose unique song cannot be understood by other whales. Can these two help one another?
Jean Huber Bookmama789
Looking for a book that will inspire you to go out and change the world, make a difference, make tiny changes? Then you have to pick up the new middle grade book by @lynnekkelly Song For A Whale Thank you so much to @delacortepress for sending me this free Advanced Readers Copy to review! If I could give this book more than five stars I would!
The story follows twelve year old Iris who is absolutely brilliant when it comes to science and electronics. In her free time she repairs and restores
I enjoyed the characters a lot - they have depth and we see sweet moments. I think my main issue is that I found it hard to suspend disbelief that this could really happen. This is a realistic story with a bit of a surreal element (including the POV of a whale that feels). I liked the science in this story (acoustic biology, hertz, fixing radios) - Iris' hobbies were different and interesting. I also liked learning more about Deaf culture; the author is an interpreter for deaf children in ...more
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
As a former American Sign Language/English Interpreter, I get very excited when I see a book about Deaf culture and ASL. This is one of those times. With Song For A Whale, Lynne Kelly, an ASL/English Interpreter herself, has written a touching, entertaining and informative coming-of-age story about Iris, a twelve-year-old girl and a unique whale who both struggle to communicate and find their place within the world around them.

Iris is an interesting main character - she's smart, curious and has
Laura Gardner
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
/5 for Song for a Whale by @lynnekelly

When Iris learns that Blue 55, a hybrid whale who sings on a different frequency from other whales, can't communicate with other whales, she instantly understands what that's like. Iris is Deaf, but her parents and all her classmates in her school are not. Iris had a close relationship with her Deaf grandparents, but since her grandfather died, her grandmother is withdrawn and sad. She has an interpreter, but she is frustrated on a daily basis. Her best
Song for a Whale cleverly and seamlessly combines two very topical elements of writing for young people, so we never feel like we are learning something. Iris’s deafness could be seen as a diversity issue, but it never feels preachy or contrived. She has always been deaf, and feeling like an
outsider is very natural. Although her grandparents are also deaf, life at home and school is often tricky and requires Iris to do much of the heavy lifting, which is unfair and often a burden.

The other
David H.
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, deaf
Retroactive Review: I've been very interested in deaf-related fiction for a while (I'm deaf myself), so I was pleasantly surprised to learn about this book, which I picked up when the author had a signing event at my local library.

It's a middle-grade novel starring 12-year-old Iris, the only deaf girl in her school. She signs but only with a few family members and another friend of hers. She's also a very tech-y girl, and the novel is set in motion when Iris learns about a lonely whale (a
Nicole Wagner
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would have loved this book so deeply at eleven or twelve years old. This book is so good, though, in that I loved it and learned a lot from it at thirty three years old.

Inclusion is an amazing thing. When done richly and with context and without tokenizing, it can bring together entire communities. This book is primarily about Deaf people, but it's so incredibly relatable. Have you ever missed someone? Been lonely? Been entranced by a story unexpectedly at a significant time in your life?
Autumn Byrd

Content/Trigger Warnings: Grief, loss of a loved one, minor bullying/harassment, abandonment/isolation

“He keeps singing this song, and everything in the ocean swims by him, as if he’s not there. He thinks no one understands him. I want to let him know he’s wrong about that.”

Friends, I’m feeling incredibly soft and sappy after reading Song with a Whale. This book is about so much, offers so much and I still can’t believe how much passion radiates from this book. I have fallen head over
Rhian Pritchard
AMAZING. So wonderful. Everyone must read.
Iris is a deaf character written with the nuance and empathy of a sign language interpreter. Being the only deaf girl in her school, Iris immediately feels drawn to Blue 55, a whale who sings at a different frequency to other whales and is unable to communicate, or to stay with a pod for any length of time. The story follows Iris as she sets out to write a song for the whale so that he knows he's not alone, and discovers the lengths she will go to for
Sara Grochowski
Lynne Kelly’s SONG FOR A WHALE is a stunning, emotionally resonant look inside the world of 12-year old Iris, a determined girl whose deafness often leaves her feeling alone and frustrated. Iris’s interactions with her hearing family, friends, and classmates are poignant and truthfully drawn, but it’s her soul connection with Blue 55, a whale that sings at a unique 55-hertz frequency, leaving him unintelligible to his fellow whales, that shines especially bright. Kelly’s portrayal of deaf ...more
Rachael Marie
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read 7 Children's Books in 7 days Reading Vlog #40
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. I rooted for Iris. I liked the loneliness similarity that Iris and Blue 55 had.
Ms. Yingling
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

While Iris and one set of her grandparents are Deaf, her parents are not, and her father doesn't even make the effort to learn sign language. Iris has an interest in repairing older radios, and this gives her a nice past time and source of income. School is a struggle, and it's hard to deal with some of her fellow classmates, especially one who pretends to know ASL but just annoys Iris with her unsuccessful and self-serving attempts. When Iris' science class
Carina Olsen
When I first heard about this one I knew I had to read it. Because that cover is all kinds of stunning. And the story seemed amazing too. I do not think I have ever read a book about a deaf girl, and I was so excited to finally get to do that. Parts of this book were all kinds of awesome. But sadly, almost all of the book was bad. Oh.

And because of that I'm giving this book two stars. Which makes me so sad, but it has to be done. I had so many issues with this one. Yet I also enjoyed some of it
Phil Jensen
Jun 30, 2019 marked it as notes-on-unfinished-books  ·  review of another edition
Notes on chapters 1-6

Iris is a moderately unhappy Deaf girl. She does not fit in at school, and her grandfather is recently deceased. She compares herself to an isolated whale that she reads about in Science class.

This is a respectable, well-executed book. I might have finished it if I had more time for fiction reading these days. The main character is well-rendered, which saves the story from feeling preachy. Her problems are complex enough that the solution is not obvious in the first 30
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Iris is a twelve-year-old deaf girl who goes to a regular school. She has a hard time feeling like she belongs and has a voice of her own when everyone else can’t understand her sign language and she can’t hear what people are saying. So, when she learns about Blue 55, a whale that sings at a different frequency than other whales, she feels a connection. Nobody understands him, either, and he must feel so alone. So, she sets out to create a song for him that he might understand, or at least will ...more
Heather Moore
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
A heck of an enjoyable read for me, even if it did feel very reminiscent of The Thing About Jellyfish. I loved that it came from the perspective of a deaf person living in both the hearing world and the deaf community — it definitely made me consider things that I hadn’t before. The running themes of hand poetry and the thoughtfulness used in choosing the correct sign for the correct meaning, as well as how ASL evolves to suit the feelings of the speaker were beautifully illuminated in the text.
Jessie Downs
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My sister is hearing impaired and an intense lover of marine biology. As I type this she is off working with sea turtles. (She is the coolest, best person I know.) I saw this book and immediately thought of her. I instantly fell in love with Iris. She is unequivocally herself, even though sometimes it’s really hard. She follows her heart, and that’s also really hard. How can you not love someone like that?
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What was a whale without a pod? What was a whale without a whale song?" Who are we without our families, our communities, the people we connect to?

The story of Iris, a 12-year-old who is deaf, and Blue 55, an unusual whale with a song that is unintelligible to other whales, focuses on that topic. And does so with empathy and sadness and humor and joy.

Iris is a complex character. She loves electronics, especially fixing broken old radios* -- in other words, restoring their voices. She
Tracy Challis
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, kindle-book
Feeling alone and misunderstood? This book is wonderful and so touching. Communication, feeling heard, knowing there is someone like you...all are so important. This book made me feel. You gotta love that.
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Mock Newbery 2020: June Read - Song for a Whale 18 168 Jun 29, 2019 07:50AM  

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Lynne Kelly writes contemporary middle grade and young adult fiction. She was born in Galesburg, Illinois, grew up in Houston, lived in some much colder places, then found her way back to the Houston area, where she works as a sign language interpreter. For a few years she also taught special education, a good career for someone with excellent organizational and planning skills. Lacking those ...more
“Some people have the kind of confidence that lets them get away with being clueless.” 1 likes
“He keeps singing this song, and everything in the ocean swims by him, as if he’s not there. He thinks no one understands him. I want to let him know he’s wrong about that.” 1 likes
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