#WorldKidLit Wednesday: Ida and the Whale

“Would you like to come with me on a journey beyond the stars?” So asks a friendly flying whale that young Ida meets when she’s half asleep.

Who could resist such an enticing invitation? Not I. Nor Ida. And so we enter a dreamy fantasy world as we join Ida and the whale on their nocturnal travels.

In this whimsical, philosophical picture book for ages 4-8 from Switzerland, Ida and the whale talk about, “…all kinds of things. Big and little. Ordinary and SPECIAL. Known and Unknown.” They discuss what “normal” is, and the whale points out that, “Sometimes you can only understand others if you stand on your head yourself.” 

In a scant few words, the book covers a wide territory: feelings, empathy, perspective, friendship, the value of silence, growing, and more. The magical illustrations by Rebecca Gugger and Simon Röthlisberger deepen the text.

Ida and the Whale is a beautiful book, one that warrants repeat reading: each return brings new thoughts and revelations. It belongs in the domain of The Little Prince and other such volumes for young children, old book-friends one never tires of revisiting, much like Ida and the whale themselves, who end their joint travels by saying “See you soon!”

Ida and the Whale

Written and illustrated by Rebecca Gugger and Simon Röthlisberger

Translated from the German by David Henry Wilson

2019, NorthSouth Books

Review: Kirkus

Award-winning opera singer Nanette McGuinness is the translator of 60 books and graphic novels for children and adults from French, Italian, and German into English, including the much-loved Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novels (Papercutz, 2007-17). Two of her latest translations, Luisa: Now and Then (Humanoids, 2018) and California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas (First Second, 2017) were chosen for YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens; Luisa: Now and Then was also a 2019 Stonewall Honor Book and a 2020 GLLI Translated YA Book Prize Honor Book. Her most recent translations include Little Josephine: Memory in Pieces (Humanoids, 2020), Undead Messiah #3 and Bibi & Miyu(both TOKYOPOP, 2020) Brina Cat #2: City Cat and The Sisters, Vol. 6: Hurricane Maureen (both Papercutz, 2020).

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