Song for A Whale

Lynne Kelly

Song for A Whale
Bonnier Books Ltd
United Kingdom
3 June 2019

Song for A Whale

Lynne Kelly

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 the same without him. The only place Iris really feels at home anymore is in her electronics workshop where she loves taking apart antique radios.   

Then, during a science lesson about sound waves, Iris finds out about a whale who is unable to communicate with other whales. The lonely whale awakens something in Iris. She’s determined to show him that someone in the world knows he’s there. Iris works on a foolproof plan to help the whale but she soon realises that that is not enough: Iris wants to find the whale herself.   

One stolen credit card, two cruise ship tickets, and the adventure of a lifetime later, Iris and the whale each break through isolation to help one another be truly heard in ways that neither had ever expected.


Iris is an extremely clever and industrious kid. She spends her spare time fixing up old radios butlately she’s been having a bit of a rough time. As the only deaf student in her school, Iris often feels lonely and isolated. One day in science class, Iris learns of a whale named Blue 55, whose unique call is at a different frequency to other whales. Iris is captivated by Blue 55. She contacts marine biology research organisations and is inspired to record a song at the same frequency as the whale so that it will know it’s not alone in this world.

Iris is determined to get her song to Blue 55. She finds an unlikely ally in her grandma and the two of them boldly board a cruise ship headed for waters where the whale may appear. This proves an enriching journey for both of them. Song for a Whale is a gorgeous novel that is clearly well researched. It’s an inspiring read, a beautifully written middle-grade novel that explores communication, family and friendship.

Highly recommended for ages 9+.

Kim Gruschow is the children’s book buyer at Readings St Kilda.

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