Friday 11 November 2022


Whalesong by Kate Gordon (Riveted Press) PB RRP $16.95 ISBN: 9780645218022

Reviewed by Kellie Nissen

If you loved Playing Beattie Bow and enjoy a mix of historical fiction, magic and timeslip adventure, you’re going to love Kate Gordon’s Whalesong.

Aberdeen Knopwood lives in modern-day Hobart, a city full of history where her family have lived for generations. Passionate about the environment, Aberdeen wants to make a difference in the world but, being shy and having just lost her best friend, is struggling to find her place and her voice. She despairs of her ability to make change, after all, change comes from action not from thinking or wanting.

Then, her father gives her a special gift – an antique chronometer. Aberdeen is confused. It’s a beautiful instrument but why would she need an old timepiece used to help sailors navigate by the stars?

Soon after receiving the gift, however, Aberdeen gets a sense there is something more mystical and powerful about the chronometer. A mysterious girl starts appearing and seems to be beckoning Aberdeen to follow her. When she finally does, Aberdeen finds herself in a place familiar, yet not. It’s Hobart but newer. And, amidst the tall ships in the harbour, there are men with harpoons and the song of whales.

Before long, Aberdeen finds herself on a mission to change history and, in the process, to perhaps even find herself, her voice and her place in the world.

Kate Gordon grew up in Tasmania, in a small town by the sea and has drawn beautifully on her love of this part of the country and its history to bring readers this tale of hope for our future and the message that, yes, one person can make a difference.

An ideal junior fiction story for readers aged 9 to 12, who are on the cusp of finding their voice and make their mark, the character of Aberdeen will resonate with readers of all ages. Whether you’re after some history, a touch of magic, a powerful story about the environment or just a beautifully crafted tale, Whalesong will have something for you.

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