Whales and Magic

Sinbad the Sailor’s First Voyage, the other Odyssey (Sinbad the Sailor, the other Odyssey Book 1)

Children - Mythology/Fairy Tale
36 Pages
Reviewed on 08/24/2018
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Whales and Magic: Sinbad the Sailor’s First Voyage, the other Odyssey Book 1 is a mythological adventure tale for children written by Ruth Finnegan and illustrated by Kevin Nara. A poor porter was sitting outside a wealthy merchant’s house one day, and he wondered aloud to Allah why he had to work and was poor while the merchant lived in luxury. That porter’s name was Sinbad, and by somewhat of a coincidence, the wealthy merchant, who had heard the porter’s lamentations, was also known as Sinbad ... Sinbad the Sailor. He called the porter over and offered to tell him the story of how he got those riches. It was a grand adventure indeed, which started out with a journey aboard a fine ship.

Ruth Finnegan’s mythological adventure tale for children, Whales and Magic, retells the tale of Sinbad the Sailor for a modern audience. Finnegan employs alliteration and repetition in her narrative to get her young listeners even more involved in the story of the young sailor and his encounter with a whale. Kevin Nara’s illustrations further add to the tale, giving each panel action and animation as we see the whale’s mighty tail crash down and see poor Sinbad flying through the air. The story and illustrations work together to make reading this book an experience, rather than just a story time offering. Whales and Magic: Sinbad the Sailor’s First Voyage, the other Odyssey, Book 1 is most highly recommended.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Sinbad shares his story with a disgruntled poor man at his doorstep, pointing out that he was once in the same position as the poor man. But luck, his faith and a kind rich man gave him a start. He shares the story with the poor man in the hopes of instilling some faith and hope in this man. Sinbad’s adventure at sea had him shaken up by a sleeping whale and beached on a magical island where a magical king took a liking to Sinbad, whose ability to sooth the king’s horses was something to be rewarded. When Sinbad’s ship reappears, miraculously (this is a fantasy after all), the king rewards Sinbad with gold and the once poor sailor returns home now a rich man. Sinbad wants to share his wealth as well as his story in the hopes that the disgruntled poor man will make something of himself and, in turn, pass on a good turn to someone else.

Ruth Finnegan’s picture book story, Whales and Magic: Sinbad the Sailor’s First Voyage, has an interesting plot and a powerful message. There is a deeper moral behind the story of Sinbad the Sailor. At least, in this story there is. And it’s a good moral to learn. The story is colorfully illustrated by Kevin Nara, which helps move the events along. I found the changing font sizes a little disconcerting and disruptive; it really didn’t help the flow of the story. However, along the lines of a well known and familiar fable, this is a good children’s story. There’s nothing better than a bit of magic, fantasy and a good Sinbad story to help a young reader learn some valuable morals.

Viga Boland

A search for stories about Sinbad the Sailor will show the huge and continuing popularity of Sinbad’s voyages, which first began appearing in literature in the 17th and 18th centuries. What is it about this sailor’s travels that have been featured in a lengthy list (see Wikipedia) of film, TV and animation, seven of which were major movie productions?

When it comes to stories that capture children’s imaginations, both plot-wise and visually, Sinbad’s tales fit the bill. But will yet another Sinbad story be welcomed by teachers and parents? Well, if that book is Whales and Magic, written by Ruth Finnegan and illustrated by Kevin Nara, the answer is “yes”, provided the book is read aloud to groups or individuals. By asking questions of the children listening to this story throughout the script, Finnegan invites direct responses, if not verbally, then mentally. By reading this book aloud, a teacher or parent can pause and wait for the child to respond before moving on. This way, the book becomes interactive.

Kevin Nara’s illustrations are colorful and visually stimulating, but small. When children read a book by themselves, pictures are often what their eyes go to first. So the occasional large, full-page image would be a nice touch. But the audible quality to the writing of Whales and Magic will make it a welcome addition to younger age classrooms. After all, this first voyage of Sinbad has always been “a whale of a tale”.