Official Review: Galaxy's Whale by Trina Casey

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Official Review: Galaxy's Whale by Trina Casey

Post by Juliana_Isabella » 03 Jul 2019, 15:45

[Following is an official review of "Galaxy's Whale" by Trina Casey.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Galaxy’s Whale by Trina Casey is an intricate children’s story that encourages introspection and emotional openness. The story follows Safiya, a young princess who has recently lost her mother. Between princess classes, her father’s quick remarriage, and her siblings’ perfection, Safiya is feeling lost in her own life. Although she loves her family, she decides to run away. Safiya is sneaking out of her bedroom when her half-brother catches her, so she decides to wait until he has fallen asleep. While she is waiting, she falls asleep and into a dream world beyond imagination. Safiya meets a unicorn called Galaxy who takes her on a journey in the mouth of a whale to an island full of magical creatures. There, Safiya discovers her inner beauty and is faced with the decision of staying on the island and forgetting her family or going home.

Although this book is written for children, it involves multiple complex themes like grief and resentment. Safiya’s stepmother denies her new daughter her love because she knows that Safiya reminds her father of his previous wife, who he loves more than the stepmother. This is complex even for an adult to follow, and it’s only one of many storylines woven into the book. Because of the multiple messages and stories, it appears the book is aimed at older children. However, it’s formatted like a picture book and employs a wide variety of vocabulary. There are many simple sentences, but the author also includes ideas like a marriage of convenience and moving on too quickly after the death of a spouse. Many children will not understand these things, and I doubt those who will would be interested in a picture book.

I give credit to the illustrator, Mari Nkomo, for the beautiful drawings of Safiya, her family, and the dream world she visits; however, the formatting of the book makes the drawings and story seem as if they are at odds with each other. First, there is no picture on the cover of the pdf version I received, which is odd for a children’s book. Also, many of the pages are filled entirely with text or a picture rather than a combination of the two. On occasion, I was confused because a picture depicted a scene which wouldn’t take place until the following page. Finally, those pages that had both text and a picture on them often used black text, which could be difficult to read when overlaid on a dark picture.

I would give this book 2 out of 4 stars. The story is truly original, and it appeals to the imagination of children. On the other hand, there are many complex themes involved that aren’t explained well, and the vocabulary and structure of the book don’t appeal to any particular age group. My overall impression is that the author needs to add more pictures, delete some of the text, and focus on one storyline to actually teach a young reader a lesson.

I would recommend this book to children ages 5 to 11 depending on their reading ability and maturity. This book will definitely have to be read with a parent who is willing to explain the many mature themes involved.

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Post by Magnify3 » 05 Jul 2019, 12:42

Thank you for the review I really enjoyed it. I agree with you about the theme and pictures. It would suit older children but they probably would not be keen on the pictures.

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Post by Kelyn » 05 Jul 2019, 14:14

I've known children as high as third grade who still loved picture books, and it sounds like it would be excellent for some Special Education students as well. I agree that the themes are likely above the heads of 5 to 6-year-olds. You described the book beautifully. I enjoyed reading your review!
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Post by kdstrack » 05 Jul 2019, 17:29

These do seem to be some heavy themes for this age group - until you remember the number of children that are going through these things in their lives. Hopefully, the author will follow your recommendations so his message can reach the children he hopes to help with this book and this message. Great review!

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Post by kandscreeley » 05 Jul 2019, 20:54

The cover is great, and the title has me intrigued. It's too bad it doesn't come together well. Thanks for the review, though.
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Post by BrittaniDJ » 05 Jul 2019, 21:44

I believe that the fairytale setting of the story is something that children will understand because it is a common theme in many stories they will already know. They hopefully, will not fully comprehend what it is to live in a home with a step-parent who is jealous of them and does not treat them well. That being said, it does happen. I think the idea of escape is relevant at any age, and so, the courage to face your problems instead of run from them is an important lesson to learn at any age. I think you are right that if a parent, or trusted adult, reads this book along with a child, the message will be clearer because the adult can answer questions the child may have. I believe adults and kids should read together anyway, just for the bonding experience. Thanks for your well-written review! I definitely want to read this whole book because of your review.

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Post by garlicclove » 07 Jul 2019, 18:15

This sounds like it might make a good teaching tool for the population I work with. Some of the tools for dealing with grief we've found ate a bit too complex or above their reading level. I may look into this.

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