A Book about the Journey of a Whale

Original title: Varvara. Kniha o velrybím putování
Publisher: Fantasos, Praha, 2015
ISBN: 978-80-88066-12-5
Illustrations: Miro Pogran
106 pages
Age: 5+, Children's Literature

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A charming coming-of-age story which also shows the importance of protecting nature in a playful, child-friendly way

This adventure of a whale-lady on her long journey across the Pacific Ocean is inspired by a true story. In 2015 researchers measured the journey of a female of the majestic gray whale species. They called her Varvara. She swam a distance of 22,500 kilometers, the longest migration route undertaken by any mammal.

Marka Míková has created a playful fairy-tale out of these facts. Her narration starts with the birth of Varvara, who will eventually give birth to a whale baby herself. As she grows up and travels the ocean, the whale-girl has lots of adventures. As well as other sea creatures, she meets people. First she trusts them, but soon she comes to realize that some of them pose a grave danger for whales, as they hunt them despite the worldwide ban. People also use the sea as a container for waste, endangering all its inhabitants. Although it touches on these serious topics, Marka Míková’s narration is filled with joyful charm and imagination. During her long journey Varvara learns to sing the mysterious whale song. She experiences the sea at its calmest and stormiest; she learns what it is to be happy and what it means to be anxious. She approaches everything with vitality and curiosity. After losing her mother she will have to take care of herself and others, like the little clumsy dolphin. In the end the whale-lady Varvara finds great love as well as her destination.

Varvara is a joyful celebration of nature and the variety of life in it.
Ivan Matějka, Literární noviny

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