Never underestimate your mom. When she threatens to buy you a blue whale if you don’t clean up your room, she means business. If you second-guess her about having a blue whale delivered overnight—after all, they are the biggest animals in the world—she’ll show you who’s boss. And before you know it, you have a sizable dilemma on your hands, because whales make rather difficult pets.
That’s the comical and cautionary tale behind Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, marking the impressive debut of author Mac Barnett. After Billy shirks his chores one too many times, he wakes to find the large aquatic mammal at his doorstep, delivered by who else but Fed Up: Delivering Punishment Worldwide. He tries to go about his day, towing the whale to school on the back of his bike, squeezing him into the classroom and defending his new pet against the playground bully. It’s exhausting, to say the least, and his troubles don’t end when he returns home. As Billy drags himself upstairs, his father pulls out a copy of the Blue Whale Owner’s Manual, complete with instructions on washing and waxing your whale, not to mention feeding him. “The manual says they eat krill—tiny shrimps things that they find by gulping ten-thousand-gallon mouthfuls of seawater.” But where will Billy find that much seawater?
He heads to the sea, of course, tossing water into the beast’s mouth by the bucketful. That’s when he has a revelation that might just give him an insider’s perspective on his blue whale problem.
This picture book, with its oversized humor and gentle lesson about responsibility, will surely find an enthusiastic audience. Fantastic illustrations by Adam Rex burst from each page and his sympathetic depiction of the nonchalant whale is completely charming. In the midst of the hilarity are plenty of facts about blue whales that readers will have no trouble digesting. Needless to say, it’s a whale of a tale with a new twist.