Iris is having a tough year. The only Deaf kid in her school, the only person she really has to talk to during the day is her interpreter, Mr. Charles, despite her classmate Nina’s extra-annoying attempts to show off her fake sign language (and her teacher’s even more annoying refusal to acknowledge that Nina is a faker). Iris really wants to go to Bridgewood, a school with a big Deaf education program across town, but her parents don’t seem to understand why she would want to be with other kids like her. And, to make everything worse, her grandpa recently passed away, and Iris misses him like crazy – but her grandma misses him even more. Lately, it seems like Grandma is sad and lonely all the time – kind of like how Iris feels about school, but worse. And, to top it all off, after a lunch time disaster with Nina, now Iris is grounded from her beloved antique radio repair business.
So, when Iris learns about Blue 55 in science class, she knows she has to figure out a way to help him. A hybrid blue and fin whale, Blue 55 sings at a different, completely unique frequency than the other whales in the ocean, which means no one can understand him – no matter how often, or how loud, he sings his song, the other whales can’t send it back to him. After she reads a blog post about a failed attempt to attach a tracker to Blue 55 by a nature sanctuary in Alaska, Iris starts to talk with one of the scientists working to track the lonely whale. With her knowledge of frequencies, radios, computers, and a little help from her school’s music class, she designs a song for Blue 55 to let him know he’s not alone in the ocean. Iris knows she has to play it for him – but how can one twelve-year-old girl get herself, and her song, from Texas to Alaska, especially during the school year?
With a little ingenuity, a lot of determination, and one wily grandma, Iris sets out on a journey to show a whale he’s not alone in the dark – and, along the way, she discovers that she might not be so alone either.
Based on a real whale, 52 Blue, Song for a Whale is a gem of a novel. Fierce, smart, and very stubborn Iris is still trying to figure out how to navigate her world and communicate with a world that often seems to be vibrating on a very different frequency than she is. With her good friend Wendell, loyal big brother Tristan, and sign language karaoke queen grandma by her side, though, she’s a force to be reckoned with. With tons of science (and whales!), this story about family, friendship, and finding your place in the world is sure to strike a chord with tech and animal lovers alike. Check it out!