My Friend Whale by Simon James


My Friend Whale by Simon James

How wonderful it would be to have a blue whale for a friend. You could go swimming together every night and watch him make the biggest splashes. You could find out all about him - how, although he's the world's biggest and heaviest animal, he has very sensitive skin and no teeth; how he can hold his breath underwater for an hour; how he can't smell or taste anything but his hearing is better than ours. You would grow to love him. Imagine, then, how sad you would be if that whale disappeared one night and never returned.


A wonderfully imaginative tale which delivers a very powerful message. Practical Parenting Featured/recommended

About the Author

Simon James

As a child

Simon James grew up in Bristol and Exeter. He was educated at Queen Elizabeth School, Crediton. From an early age, he spent much of his time drawing and stapling stories into little books. His father had lots of books on cartoonists, many of whom Simon tried to copy. His favourites were Ronald Searle and Gerard Hoffnung. He spent the rest of his time climbing trees, saving worms from puddles and worrying about the strange shapes in the curtains at night.

As an adult

After leaving school, Simon had many different jobs, whilst hoping to be a cartoonist. Some time later he went to college to study graphic design and art history. “Whilst working with words and images together, I developed a greater understanding of the techniques used in creating picture books.” he says. After college, Simon went back to spending much of his time drawing and stapling stories into little books – and still does to this day.

As an artist

Simon’s first book, The Day Jake Vacuumed, was published in 1989 – and two more books about Jake soon followed (reissued by Walker in 2002). His first title for Walker Books, My Friend Whale, was the first of several concerned with a child’s relationship with the natural world – Dear Greenpeace, Sally and the Limpet, The Wild Woods and The Birdwatchers have established Simon as one of the country’s leading author/illustrators. Leon and Bob won the Smarties Book Prize Silver Award and was the New York Times' Best Illustrated Book of the Year, and Days Like This, a collection of small poems, was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Baby Brains was the overall winner of the Red House Children's Book Award in 2005, voted for by 25,000 children, and Simon followed up this success with two more Baby Brains titles, Baby Brains Superstar and Baby Brains and RoboMum. Simon continues to be a much sought-after speaker in schools, and at festivals and conferences both in the UK and in the USA.

Things you didn't know about Simon James

As a child Simon wanted to be a stuntman or a cartoonist. He can run very fast. He loves water-pistol fights. He saves worms from the pavement and puts them onto the grass. He doesn’t like coffee or tea, but drinks lots of water After leaving school, he trained to be a police officer but was asked to leave for drawing penguins in his police notebook. His ideal day out is walking with The Adventurers (four children he knows and who feature in his book Days Like This) wading through streams - with rucksacks full of chocolate. He loves music, especially Van Morrison. He can’t sing and has a unique way of dancing His favourite sound is birdsong, especially the songs of blackbirds, skylarks and chaffinches.

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Book Info


32 pages
Interest Age: From 3


Simon James
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Author's Website


Publication date

5th May 2003



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