Are We There Yet?: Following Papa's Song by Giana Marino
AT DAWN LITTLE BLUE NUZZLED ALONGSIDE PAPA AND ASKED, "IS IT TIME?"
Papa says it is time to make their annual journey north to their seasonal territory. But Little Blue has never made that swim and can hardly conceive of what it means to go so far.
"PAPA, HOW WILL WE KNOW WHICH WAY TO GO?"
"WE'LL FOLLOW THE SOUND OF THE WHALES, LITTLE BLUE, JUST LIKE OUR FAMILY HAS FOR YEARS AND YEARS."
Little Blue hears the whale song, but the ocean seems so big and Papa swims so fast. What if he falls behind? Papa answers.
"IF YOU LISTEN CLOSELY, YOU WILL ALWAYS HEAR MY SONG."
Little Blue hears the song of the others ahead, and he sticks very close to Papa, swimming as hard as he can. But soon he begins to look around at all the new and fascinating sights as they pass--all sorts of fish, giant sea turtles, jellyfish, and kelp. And then Little Blue looks beneath him and Papa. It is a very dark blue and seems to go down forever. Papa tells him to look but stay near the surface with him.
Then Little blue glimpses just a flash of silvery light below. Could he just go a bit deeper and see what it is?
He dives down, toward the flicker of light.
EVERYTHING WAS MAGIC, JUST LIKE PAPA SAID.
Down, further in the deep, where few rays of sunlight filter, he sees beautiful creatures, dolpins, luminescent fish, and huge rays that seem to soar through the depths on giant, graceful wings.
But then Little Blue realizes that it is very silent in the deep and that he is feeling cold, very cold. He looks up to where Papa was just a minute ago, but he sees no bulky silhouette against the glittering surface. Little Blue calls for Papa. He calls and calls. All he hears are his own frightened sounds.
What was it that Papa had said for him to do?
Giana Marino's newest, Following Papa's Song (Viking Books, 2014), is a lovely and lyrical salute to fatherhood and to the wonders of the sea. Her exquisite double-page underwater scenes glow with silver, green, and then blue and her shifts in perspective show first the enormity of the humpback whale father and son and the vastness of the ocean depths in which they are indeed small, especially Little Blue, as alone in the dark depths, he listens for his father's song to show him the way, The premise of the young runaway and his safe return to the fold have never had a more moving or splendid setting, which ends, as all prodigal stories should, with the father and child soaring into the sunlight as they breach with joy at their reunion. A beautiful parable of parenthood and a splendid salute to the sea.
See also Giana Marino's noted earlier book, Meet Me at the Moon (Viking, 2012).