The Children's Bookshelf: Whale In A Fishbowl

Jun 25, 2018

WHALE IN A FISHBOWL written in gentle words and rhythms by Troy Howell and illustrated in soft lines and colors by Richard Jones is a thoughtful story about Wednesday the whale who lives in a giant fishbowl in the middle of the city. She is all alone and very much separated from the city life that whirls around her including cars, truck, office workers, families and pets.

One day she leaps up from the bottom to the top of her fishbowl and sees a patch of beautiful blue out passed the city. Wednesday doesn’t know what it could be, but oh how she longs to see it again! When she starts leaping and leaping crowds gather and clap at what they think are her tricks. But it takes one little girl to innocently tell the whale that she is not only beautiful but that she shouldn’t be living in a fishbowl. “You belong in the sea!”

Not understanding the word sea but with this thought in her heart the whale decides to try again to see the blue. She gathers her strength and makes one last attempt. This time she not only performs her highest leap but leaps right over the top of the fishbowl turning it over as she goes. The water carries her down through the city and glides her into the beautiful blue where she belongs and can live happily with other whales.

The special design elements of this book include deep blue-green end papers and a perpendicular gatefold that pulls out to show Wednesday’s spectacular leap!

WHALE IN A FISHBOWL written by Troy Howell and illustrated by Richard Jones is a story told in a soft whisper about freedom for children ages 4-8. (Schwartz and Wade/Random House, 2018).


Wednesday the whale wants to leap high enough to see the blue (sea), but she has to try harder. What have you wanted to do but had to work harder to do it? For instance, could it have been learning to ride a bike, learning cursive writing, memorizing a poem, being nicer to your brother or sister or keeping your room clean? Think about it and then draw a picture of how it made you feel when you finally did it!

Exploring the illustrations: Who is watching when Wednesday the whale slips into the sea?  Piper appears in six illustrations. Can you find her all six times? What do you think the little dog is trying to do as he sits and runs around outside of the fishbowl? How does Wednesday’s highest leap as shown in the illustration that folds out and up make you feel? What does the final illustration tell you?

The author of this book poses a good question: “What did the sea have that her fishbowl didn’t have?” How would you answer this question?