Breathe

Illustrated by Scott Magoon
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About The Book

“Richly composed and sweetly appealing—just right for baby storytimes as well as one-to-one sharing.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Perfectly suitable as a read-aloud.” —School Library Journal

Take a deep breath and dive into a day in the life of a baby whale, told with luminous illustrations and spare text, with a fresh twist on a timeless message.

Swim! Play all day. Breathe.

This simply told story follows a young whale on a journey of discovery as he experiences his first day at sea on his own! He swims, explores, and makes friends in his marine habitat. After a day of independence, this little whale delights in returning home to his mother. Young readers will be drawn to Scott Magoon’s reassuring story of adventure.

About The Author

Photograph © Peggy Foley Arbeene

Scott Magoon is the author-illustrator of Breathe, a Kirkus Reviews Best Read Aloud, a Huffington Post Best Book of 2014, and Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2014; and The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot, which Kirkus Reviews called, “Entertaining and clever—and that’s no lie.”  Among the many books he has illustrated is Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer, which School Library Journal called, “A fun and delightful read for all children who have both a monsterly and a kind side.” Scott lives in the Boston area with his wife and two sons. Visit him online at ScottMagoon.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (April 2014)
  • Length: 40 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781442412583
  • Grades: P - 3
  • Ages: 4 - 8
  • Lexile ® BR170L

Raves and Reviews

A very young white whale swims into the wider world of the arctic seas, celebrating first adventures of the very young.

Magoon’s digital art captures the colors and crisp, airy light of the Arctic setting; cartoon lines and wide eyes present creatures above and under the ice as friendly, rounded and smiling. Even the polar bear—seen against the sky through an ice hole as a dark shadow, possibly threatening—is fairly benign. The little whale (clearly a baby beluga but not named as such) is doing the work that toddlers do—exploring the world with mama nearby. The few words of the text speak both to whale baby and, by extension, to the listener: “Play all day // and swim, / and swim, / and swim. // Breathe.” This last (“Breathe”) appears on a double-page spread in which the young whale is surrounded by the vast sea, snowy mountains, and a pale, bright sun. Then a dive changes the palette from the pale blues and whites of the surface through greeny yellows and finally to dark: Here, what was perhaps an arctic whaler, stilled and slightly ghostly, sits on the seafloor. The simple adventure concludes with an anthropomorphic yet welcome invitation: “Most of all, love / and be loved.”

Richly composed and sweetly appealing—just right for baby storytimes as well as one-to-one sharing. (Picture book. 6 mos.-3)

– Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

With the encouragement of its mother, a young whale spends the day exploring, making new friends, finding shipwrecks, and swimming past glaciers, while intermittently pausing to “breathe” during its busy day. When the whale encounters a polar bear and becomes frightened, its mother soon reappears and assures its safety. This comforting tale not only gives youngsters the opportunity to explore the ocean alongside a whale but also subtly reminds them of the importance of slowing down to take a break every once in a while. Magoon’s illustrations, which were rendered digitally, are vibrant and expansive, each filling a spread with vivid shades of blue. The minimal text is laid out in clear, big font, supporting the impressive illustrations without ever overshadowing them. With its succinct text and sprawling pictures, this story is perfectly suitable as a read-aloud. Pair it with Stephanie St. Pierre’s What the Sea Saw (Peachtree, 2006) for a gentle, ocean-themed storytime.

– School Library Journal

A brand new baby white whale swims off for the first time to investigate his ocean world. The playful calf
frolics with puffins, jellyfish, crabs, and googly-eyed fish; sings to narwhals and squid; explores a pirate
ship; and smiles at polar bears peeking through holes in the arctic ice. When he emerges out of midnight
arctic waters, his spout sprays in mists. As he dives deep, his glowing gurgles and frothy foam are sharply
delineated against indigo waters. Every few pages the word breathe repeats, reminding readers that whales
need to come to the surface for air. When the baby sleeps contentedly on the back of his loving mother, he
dreams under the stars and the moon in a black sky lit by blue-green northern lights. Endpapers sport
duplicate pods of white whales swimming on an aqua background. Every double-page spread is filled with
delights. Several words per page (“play all day” or “make friends”), simple shapes, and bright digitalized
colors tell this story about the joys of exploring our world.

– Booklist

In this arctic, glacial tale, little whale is pushed by his mother to experience life at its fullest and savor the full spectrum of emotions and experiences encountered daily in his world above and below the ocean waves. Magoon uses few words and simple sentences making this an ideal title for young readers. Additionally, his use of uncomplicated illustrations, mostly in shades of blue, lend a coolness to the feeling of the story, allowing the reader to practically experience the chill of the waters where little whale lives.

– Library Media Connection, October 2014

Richly composed and sweetly appealing—just right for baby storytimes as well as one-to-one sharing.

– Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

Awards and Honors

  • Capitol Choices List (DC)
  • MSTA Reading Circle List
  • Wisconsin State Reading Association's Reading List
  • Massachusetts Book Award "Must Read" List
  • Heather's Pick - Children

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Scott Magoon