Whale in the Bath

Kylie Westaway, illustrated by Tom Jellett
AUD $19.99
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Bruno can't wash when there is a whale in the bath! Why won't anyone believe him? An irresistibly sweet read-aloud story perfect for those imaginative 3-6 year olds and their parents.

'Bruno, get in the bath!'

It's bathtime, but there's a whale in the tub and Bruno can't get in! No one in his family believes him and Bruno keeps being sent back to the bathroom until, at last, Bruno and the whale work out a very splashy solution.

A wonderful story that humorously explores bathtime and a playful celebration of a child's imagination.

Author bio:

Kylie Westaway has spent most of her life travelling and living in different countries. Her background is in theatre where she worked on the Australian production of The Lion King and for the Bell Shakespeare Company. Kylie spent a year teaching 2-6 year olds in South Korea and started working in publishing when she returned to Australia. She is a performed playwright and has written for magazines. Whale in the Bath is her first book.

Tom Jellett has illustrated a number of books for children including the extraordinarily successful My Dad Thinks He's Funny by Katrina Germein and the follow up My Dad Still Thinks He's Funny. Tom has also been an editorial illustrator for News Limited and been included in the Editorial and Book category for Illustrators 53, exhibited at the Society of Illustrators, New York in 2011 and 2013. He was also included in Communication Arts Illustration Annual 2012, 3x3 Children's Show No. 9, and was Highly Commended in the 2013 Illustrators Australia Awards.

Category: Picture books
ISBN: 9781743318584
Awards: Commended Illustrators Australia Awards 2015 AU; Commended CBCA Awards, Early Childhood 2015 AU
Publisher: A&U Children's
Imprint: A & U Children
Pub Date: October 2014
Page Extent: 32
Format: Hard Cover
Age: 3 - 6
Subject: Picture books

Teachers reviews

Cute story and colourful illustrations! Young children will love this bath time story that moves away from the usual ducks in the bath to something much larger – a whale.  It is a cleverly illustrated picture book highlighting the night time family routine. The premise is Bruno either has a wild imagination or there really is a whale in his bath and you have to read right to the end to find out. Whatever the answer, he has obviously told so many tall stories in the past that no one believes him anymore.

Prep children will quickly engage with this story and it could be used (just for fun) to introduce a science lesson on whales, although the factual content is limited to the favourite food of whales. It could be better used to talk about the characters in the story, the problem that arises for the main character and how it is solved. You could also come up with some varying endings to the story or change the animal in the bath while writing a class retell.I would also use this story for transitions; asking the children to point to and tell the class a sight word as they prepare to go out for munch and crunch. Every page is packed with words they can read. My top readers would have this one off the library shelf daily.
Heazle Shore, Prep Teacher, Camp Hill State Infants & Primary School QLD 4152

But I’ll get in trouble! I have to have my bath!”
The whale looked at me, and smiled.
“I have an IDEA.”

This is Kylie Westaway’s first book and what a very amusing storyline. Poor Bruno can’t have a bath because there is a whale in it and every time he tells somebody of this problem, he keeps getting sent back to the bathroom. Bruno’s family thinks he is telling lies as there is always something strange in his house; last week it was a bear under the bed, then a walrus in the backyard, and now a whale in the bath. Will poor Bruno ever get his bath? The final few pages are very clever and very funny and I did laugh out loud as I read them.

The style of text is clever and the emphasis on certain words and actions are appealing to children. The colours and style of the illustrations, which are watercolour with pen outline, are fabulous. Children will learn a few facts about whales in a novel way, what they eat and names of some parts of their bodies. Kylie has a website which has some activities which can be used with the book; these include creative writing, art and fact finding on whales.

A very humorous book about bath-time and it conjures up great imagination themes for children to be discussed in the classroom. This book could be used easily in the English Curriculum - Language, Literature or Literacy for Foundation or Year 1. Also suits three to eight-year-olds.
Felecia Phillips, Tasmanian eSchool TAS 7018

The picture book Whale in the Bath by Kylie Westaway and Tom Jellett tells the familiar story of a little child who repeatedly tells his older family members about something that he has seen and no one believes him. This story resonates with younger children who are often in the position of trying to make older children and adults listen to them, it also reflects the fact that, for young children, the line between truth and fiction can be quite blurred.

In the classroom, this book would lend itself to the chance and data elements of the maths curriculum. For example, the Year 2 statement: Identify practical activities and everyday events that involve chance. Describe outcomes as ‘likely’ or ‘unlikely’ and identify some events as ‘certain’ or ‘impossible’ (ACMSP047) would be easily covered by this story. Children could decide whether it would be likely/unlikely/impossible that a whale could be in someone’s bathtub, it could lend itself to a bit of online research about the size of whales. The class might like to draw a full sized whale outside with chalk and draw a bath tub and compare it to the whale.  They could see how many children could fit into the whale vs the bathtub outline.

The format of the book lends itself to discussions about font and layout because certain words are deliberately emphasised either by a change of font type, using capitals, bolding particular words etc. The layout is also interesting as sometimes it varies from the traditional horizontal lines of text to words that curve upwards on the page. Children might like to try some of these techniques when creating their own texts. The book is also a great model text for simple direct speech.
Wendy Fletcher, Bellerive Primary, Rosny Park TAS

The age-old phenomenon of young children and their over-active imagination often appears in children’s literature. Whale in the Bath, however, ends with a surprising twist. Bruno has been ordered to have a bath but when he gets there, a whale is using his bubble bath, Dad’s back scrubber, taking up too much space and making too much mess. Bruno suggests it uses the ocean for a wash, but the whale complains of the lack of warm water and is not going anywhere until it is done washing.

Bruno thought he had an out; but Ally did the big-sister thing and reminded him of the other wild animals he had ‘discovered’ around the house. Mum ignored the nonsense and tried to get firm with him while Dad indulged the fantasy, making it obvious poor Bruno wasn’t to be believed. Bruno does get a wash of sorts but I will leave it for the reader to discover more. Westaway introduces delightful characters in this family, and Jellett captures the facial expressions in a way that adds much to the story. Three to eight-year-old children will identify with the bedtime antics of this family. It is a wonderful read-aloud.

In a classroom situation, I would be comparing it to other similar books such as: A Fish Out of Water and A Lion in the Meadow.
Claire Cheeseman, Classroom Teacher, Laingholm Primary NZ

A clever addition to an Early Childhood/Foundation level setting, Whale in the Bath will delight young readers with its ridiculously large whale in Bruno’s bath. Of course, no one believes young Bruno - but it’s true! The whale is busy bathing in his bathroom! Bruno is a little bit like the boy who cried wolf as previously he had reported there being a bear under his bed and a walrus in the backyard...

Westaway and Jellett have created a lovely picture book that could be used to introduce the concepts of measurement in an early years learning setting - smaller, larger, etc. The impossible idea of a huge whale being in the bath is something young children will grasp very quickly. There is also a reference to the whale eating krill, which links to Foundation/Level One: Science; understandings of living things having basic needs including food and water, and changing locations where their needs are met. This also relates to bigger picture ideas of sustainability and preserving the food chain for animals.

Whale in the Bath is also visually appealing. It cleverly uses font to display and highlight action in the text with the whale spraying water and words across the page. Whale close ups consume the pages with its enormity and the expressive reactions of Bruno would be easily interpreted by young children. This book would ‘read aloud’ well at story-time with family conversation, dialogue and action words highlighted. The book has a retro look and feel about it, with its colour choices of orange, blue, green and cream, it reminded me of my childhood books in the 1970s. The addition of gorgeous endpapers filled with orange krill swimming across the pages to start and end the story adds to the aesthetic. A quality worthwhile and fun picture book for early years teaching!
Sandra Harvey, La Trobe University, Bendigo & BSSC VIC

This is a familiar and well-loved plot of a boy who is sent to have his bath but does not do so, in this instance, because the bath and bathroom have been taken over by a whale. Bruno explains his dilemma to each of his family members - sister, mother and father - who keep sending him off to bathe, and refuse to listen or believe his difficult situation. A history of prior ‘visitors’ unfolds during the story, almost as an aside, with comic situations, such as the bear squashed flat under the bed, indicating that Bruno has a history of avoidance.

This is a delightful tale of a familiar situation, told with wit and humour, as Bruno shifts from being the polite victim to a forceful boy demanding access to his bath. Westaway writes evocatively, and with expressive fonts for emphasis, using questions and answers effectively to present both Bruno’s and the whale’s points of view. The combination of the ridiculous and the possible in the whale’s answers adds a level of authenticity to Bruno’s problem. His conversations with the whale are enlightening as the whale explains the various reasons why he needs a bath instead of washing in the ocean, and that he can’t get out until he has washed his tail (which is clearly a physical challenge within the confines of the bathtub). There is an interesting mix of fiction and fact throughout that provides opportunities to encourage critical and creative thinking to use logic and imagination to investigate whales and their habits to bring a more critical interpretation to a re-reading of the book.

Jellett’s illustrations are masterful, depicting a quirky, mischievous whale in various impossible positions as he tries to fit into the bathtub alongside an increasingly angry boy. A sense of activity, movement and mess are conveyed in simple lines and expressive faces and body language. There are links here to other children’s literature about displacement and size and this title provides a starting point for Foundation Mathematics exploring Measurement and Geometry. The illustrations can be used for children to make comparisons to decide which is longer, heavier or larger and explain reasoning in everyday language using the visual cues in the story to assist them.

Whale in the Bath is a joyful tale that is highly recommended for pre and early school age children. The kindergarten class, who shared the story with me, laughed uproariously and demanded a second reading on the spot.
Jennie Bales, Charles Sturt University TAS

Downloadable Activities

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