Friday 24 September 2010


Stranded by Jan Ramage, illustrated by Mark Wilson (black dog books)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-74203-097-5
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

Stranded is a beautifully presented picture book based on actual events, the succesful rescue of over 100 whales beached at Busselton, Western Australia.

While beach fishing Ben sees 'a swell of black shapes, all heading for shore'. He alerts his father and soon the wildlife officer and over a thousand people are on the beach attempting to keep the whales alive and to herd them out to sea.

Stranded has more text than most picture books but never seems text-heavy. It is written simply and evocatively, drawing the reader in to the emotion and seriousness of the situation. Concepts of environmental protection and community involvement have been explored without didactism as the key to this book's success is the focus on one boy, Ben, and one whale calf.

Ramage's text and Mark Wilson's illustrations combine wonderfully. Wilson captures the colours of the sky and the sea in a range of moods as well as the feelings of Ben as he fights to save the calf and eventually has to be dragged out of a stormy sea by his father. My favourite spread is a large illustration of the beach full of people, whales and frenetic activity contrasted with a smaller text box picture of Ben supporting the calf and willing it to live on the opposite page. Endpapers also feature scenes of the whales and the sea. This is a beautiful book that will be treasured.

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