This quiet story makes a lot of noise both in one’s understanding of what it’s like to be deaf 81-tgKlOUkLand how sound is crucial in the whale’s underwater world. Twelve-year-old Iris makes an instant connection with a whale named Blue 55. Neither are able to communicate very well with those around them.

For Iris, she’s often frustrated with those who can’t sign or often misinterpret her words. Far away, off the Pacific coast, a lonely whale sings at a different frequency than the other whales. He roams the seas as an outcast. When Iris learns of his plight from her teacher, she creates a song at the whale’s 55-hertz frequency so the creature will know someone is listening. But somehow she has to find a way to share her song.

Her timely journey to meet the whale is made possible by a grandmother who still mourns the loss of her husband, Iris’s grandpa. They fly off from Houston to San Francisco and board a cruise ship to Alaska. Slight problem—they do so without letting anyone else know what they are up to—including Iris’s parents and her school.

The majority of the narration comes via Iris, but a few third person chapters focus on what is happening in Blue 55’s world. This may not move fast enough for some, but be assured by reading the tale you’ll have a better understanding of those living without sound both on land and in the ocean.  A great premise carried out with heart and emotion.




  1. Though not in the story too much, an older brother and parents provide the love Iris needs.
  2. Wendell is Iris’s deaf friend and he too is on the side most of the time. I’d enjoy another book based on Wendell and his enjoyment of outer space.
  3. The relationship between Iris and her grandmother was a touching tribute to all grandparents. Their character arc comes full circle.
  4. The story made me want  to take a cruise with all the food, activities, and adventures that await.
  5. Electronics are a big passion for Iris and provide a look at some interesting old radios and other sound devices. Vibrations are what she feels. The author’s notes at the end were also quite insightful.

THE OFFICIAL BLURB (From Penguin Random House)

From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she’s the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she’s not very smart. If you’ve ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: she should invent a way to “sing” to him! But he’s three thousand miles away. How will she play her song for him?


I live in the Houston, Texas area where I work as a sign language interpreter and write books for kids. I found both of those fields in a roundabout way.

In college I majored in psychology, but after taking some sign language courses, I decided that was a field I wanted to stick with. I’ve worked as a sign language interpreter ever since then. I still learn something new every day, and my work has taken me everywhere from classrooms to hospitals to Alaskan cruises.

(For more visit Lynne Kelly’s website)



I won a copy of the SONG FOR A WHALE ARC on author Fleur Bradley’s YA SLEUTH Blog. You can also find Fleur at her author website.


Comments are welcome below. I read them all and if time allows you might even get a response.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to SONG FOR A WHALE

  1. Janet Smart says:

    This sounds so interesting, Greg. Good for her for inventing a way to sing to the whale. I also love the cover.

  2. Wow! I love how you wrote your review. I love the similarities/differences you shared. Very different from mine. My favorite read this year! Such a beautiful story that touches my heart because I have a hearing impaired daughter.

  3. This novel is near the top of my TBR pile–but seeing the coverage it’s getting (both you and Patricia this week) I’m thinking I should look for a novel to feature which may be getting lost in the shuffle. Stay tuned!

  4. What an interesting premise. I hadn’t heard of this one, but I’m definitely intrigued!

  5. suemford says:

    This book sounds great! Thanks for sharing.

  6. This sounds like a very good read, Greg. I love the close relationship between Iris and her grandmother–reminds me of my deep connection with my own grandma. Thanks for sharing this one for MMGM.

  7. This book is getting so much buzz. I hope I can get to it sometime soon. Thanks for your thoughts on this one.

  8. Sue Heavenrich says:

    This is one of those I’ve been meaning to read … and now I know I have to! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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