A Whale in Paris is a novel for younger readers by Claire Polders & Daniel Presley (Atheneum Books for Young Readers / Simon & Schuster, 2018)
A hopeful and heroic girl befriends a lost whale during the German occupation of Paris in World War II, and together they embark on a journey to find their families and liberate France.
Ever since the Germans became the unwelcome “guests” of Paris, Chantal and her father have gone out in the evenings to fish in the Seine. One night, hoping to catch a salmon, Chantal spies something much more special: a whale!
He seems friendly, lost, and small (for a whale). Chantal opens her heart to the loveable creature and names him Franklin, after the American president who must surely be sending troops to rescue her country.
But Franklin is in danger: The Parisians are starving and would love to eat him, and the Nazis want to capture him as a gift to Hitler. In a desperate bid to liberate themselves and their city, Chantal and Franklin embark on a dangerous voyage. But can one girl manage to return a whale to the ocean and reunite him with his parents? And will she ever see her own family again?
“This fanciful, impossible animal fable often feels just as urgent as the real events. . . Readers may find this. . . story utterly convincing and even sometimes heartbreaking.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Chantal’s optimism against overwhelming odds makes her a hero to creatures above and below the water. Overflowing with charm and hope, this novel is perfect for readers who love a touch of the fantastic and the impossible.” (Booklist Online)
“Franklin, his unlikely appearance in Paris, and his anthropomorphic personality invoke an unexpected but delightful air of magic. Chantal is a compelling and compassionate character. This debut novel set in Nazi-occupied Paris will engage and charm young readers.” (School Library Journal)
“In this magical-realist adventure set during the Nazi occupation of Paris, a girl whose mother is lost at sea and a whale become beacons of hope. We find humanity in odd places, and feel we too know the mysteries of whales.” (Scholastic)
“… delves into the workings of human nature, and teaches young readers valuable life lessons, such as not judging people prematurely and the importance of keeping promises…. an excellent introduction to WWII for elementary readers, being both an exciting and touching story.” (The Historical Novel Society)
“I find this children’s book genuinely uplifting. What it does, without moralizing or overemphasizing the suffering, is demonstrate the depth and power of the human spirit to survive, overcome, and resist. What better inspiration for children of all ages.” (LitKidz)
“The concept is so unique, and is pulled off perfectly. There is just enough wonder to make the story feel magical, and a dash of realism so it’s not overly fantastic. […] A WHALE IN PARIS gave me the same timeless, fairytale feeling as I got when I first read THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET. This book is wonder-filled.” (Laura Noakes)
“Two thumbs up for A Whale in Paris! […] Combining the esprit de corps of the Save Willy movies with the wartime family drama of The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah’s huge bestseller, I say this book is a winner as a read alone or read aloud book.” (Piper Pan And Her Merry Band)
A Whale in Paris by Claire Polders & Daniel Presley
Illustrations by Erin McGuire
Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster)
22 May 2018 / Ages: 10+ / 256 pages / ISBN 978153441915
Read an interview with author Claire Polders about the books she read as a kid, and how she and her husband came to write A Whale in Paris.
A Whale in Paris made it on multiple lists:
- the Horned Toad Tales Award List 2019-2020
- the Tome Society Book Award IT List
- the Scholastic 50 Magical Books for Summer List
- the Barnes&Noble List 10 New Middle Grade Books We Love
- the MackinVIA Community‘s Great Speculative Fiction List.
- Chosen from all children’s books on WWII for the ARRRGH! Schooling Family Reading Crate March 2019.
- Bookroo Sea Creatures: a list of books on whales and sharks and more!
Available now in HARDBACK and PAPERBACK!
Rate, review, or buy A Whale in Paris at: