REVIEW: The Whale Library (2021)

A Graphic Novel by Zidrou & Judith Vanistendael

From the description alone, I could tell The Whale Library by Zidrou & Judith Vanistendael wasn’t going to be a happy book. Partly a poetry book, partly something akin to a children’s storybook, this is an interesting story with a message about living on for somebody when grieving and possibly a dash of a message about animal cruelty perhaps. It also touches on missing important milestones due to work, and watching progress destroy tradition. Aside from a bit of a sad ending (which I’m sure you can surmise through my vagueness) and a bit of nudity, this is a sweet book, and could possibly be suitable for some older kids. It’s very light despite a few heavy themes and is beautifully drawn with what I assume are watercolor paintings. It doesn’t dwell on anything sad, because the whale doesn’t like happy endings. – it ends in a hopeful mood about moving on and living your best life.

“A poetic fable for grown-ups full of wisdom and beauty, by two Belgian masters of graphic storytelling.

Out on the high seas lives a whale unlike any other, who spends her days reading stories to all who will listen, taken from the vast library hidden in her belly. When the whale bumps into a sea postman’s boat one fateful night, it’s the beginning of an extraordinary friendship. But not every story can have a happy ending…”

I enjoyed this book, but it is somewhat short. Much like another book by Europe Comics, Balbuzar, this is a book that sits in a untapped market for the most part – storybooks for adults. Usually less word-heavy and more ephemeral than traditional graphic novels, they usually thrive on their gorgeous full-page interior art pieces, and this is no exception. If you are looking for something different, or enjoy stories about seafaring and boats, I would recommend this to you.

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

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