About the book

A captivating and beautifully illustrated story about three sisters who find a stranded whale on the beach. With a powerful, poetic text, wonderful to read aloud, and illustrations full of life and movement, Storm Whale celebrates the majesty and vulnerability of nature and our place in it.

Book cover - storm whale by Sarah Brennan and illustrated by Jane Tanner.
Published by: 
Allen & Unwin

About the author


Sarah Brennan is the Hong Kong-based, Tasmanian-born author and publisher of the best-selling Chinese Calendar Tales as well as the hugely popular Dirty Story series for kids. Her books have regularly appeared on bestseller lists in Hong Kong, where at one point, two of her titles outsold the (then) latest J.K.Rowling and Stephenie Meyer titles for 6 weeks running! Two titles have previously been long-listed for Singapore's Red Dot Children's Book Awards, and her 2015 title, The Tale of Rodney Ram, was short-listed for the Golden Dragon Book Awards 2016.

Author - storm whale by Sarah Brennan and illustrated by Jane Tanner.

About the illustrator


Jane Tanner has a fine art and teaching background and began illustrating picture books full-time in 1984. She loves working for children and drawing their attention to the natural world in all its awe and wonder. She is the acclaimed illustrator of the best-selling picture books There's a Sea in my Bedroom, The Fisherman and the Theefyspray, and The Soldier's Gift. She is the author and illustrator of Playmates, Isabella's Secret, Ride with Me, Just Jack, and Love from Grandma. She has won or been shortlisted for many prestigious awards, including the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Awards.

Illustrator - storm whale by Sarah Brennan and illustrated by Jane Tanner.

Judges’ comments

Cleverly expressed in verse, Storm Whale dramatically tells the story of three young sisters who, on a wet and windy day, find a stranded whale on the beach. The children spend the day tipping buckets of water over the whale and trying, unsuccessfully, to get it to move. The girls leave the beach at dusk as a storm comes in, broken-hearted at their lack of success. Next morning, however, this turns to joy as they find the storm has been the whale's friend, sweeping it back out to sea. This is a book about caring for the natural world and evokes our compassion without the whale being anthropomorphised.

The verse form works very well for this story; it almost mimics a sea shanty, songs that were often used to provide rhythm for tasks on sailing ships. Here too, the rhyming couplets seem to evoke the rhythmic bucketing of the water over the whale. There is richness in the text, which uses wonderful imagery to conjure up scenes such as the 'wrack and wreck' strewn across the beach after the storm.

The carefully constructed written text is wonderfully enhanced and complemented by the illustrations. These are full of emotion, colour and movement. They are realistic, almost brutal at times and add to the drama of the tale. The colour palette, as well as reflecting the changes in the weather, also evokes the girls' moods: grey as they trudge home believing they have failed in their task; joyful blues and greens when they find the whale has gone. There is a sense of wonder conveyed in that particular illustration which the viewer shares, placed as we are behind the girls. The illustrations also portray a loving relationship between the siblings and a real sense of family as they and their mother huddle by firelight through the storm. The story covers a short time frame but runs through a gamut of emotions and beautifully constructs a beach holiday with a difference.