Whales To See The

Doubleday ISBN 0-385-09873-1

When Dee Dee and John and the other "special" students in their small class learn that they may go out on a boat to watch the semi-annual whale migration off the California coast, they are nearly besides themselves with excitement. But their excitement, if they can't control it, may be the one thing that prevents them from being allowed to go. For Dee Dee and John and their classmates are neurologically disturbed children who have been brain-damaged or born with some motor dysfunction. While they suffer emotionally from their disabilities, intellectually they are as capable as any other kids their age.

Despite forecasts of poor weather, Miss Fishes' class goes out on the big sightseeing boat, The Protector, from San Diego, along with another class -- one of "normal" children. At first, the normal kids are casually cruel to the disturbed ones, until bad weather makes them all frightened and seasick; near disaster, followed by the sudden appearance of a pod of gray whales, brings about a suspenseful and satisfying denouement.

Whales To See The would make an exciting TV-Movie for modern families, with a contemporary Los Angeles oceanside setting and the humanizing lesson it teaches kids about sympathy and support for our less physically fortunate brothers and sisters.


"I'm afraid the title of this book may be confusing and unappealing to young readers, which would be a shame since the book itself is exciting and readable….The Swarthouts handle their Glendon Swarthoutcharacters with a fine sensitivity, but what they do even better is to present prejudice as, I think, it really is. They show prejudice at its cruelest, and they do this from several viewpoints so that the reader, like it or not, has to identify with all parties. The book has much to recommend it--immediacy, originality, humor and, in the passages involving the whales, great beauty. 'Under the reaches of the sea the pod moved northward n the night. It needed no star to steer by. No storm or tide could turn it from its course. It was composed of living things…which would guide and protect and care for one another until together, together, all had climbed the ocean to their journey's end.' " Betsy Byars, New York Times Book Review

"In spite of the authors' last minute rush for a sunny close, this cheerfully hortatory tale about a day's whale-sighting excursion off California by a class of neurologically handicapped children makes its points with humor and warmth….The Swarthouts manage to incorporate the tensions typical of the varied disabilities and a common sense of alienation into the special personalities of John and Dee-Dee. Even with the continuing subcutaneous preachments, it's an entertaining outing." Kirkus Reviews