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Why the Whales Came

Gracie and her friend have always been warned to stay away from the Birdman and his side of the island. But then, they discover the Birdman is not who they thought. They build up friendship with him, but when the children get stranded on Samson Island they don't know whether to believe the birdman's story that the island is cursed.
Average Customer Rating:
2.8 out of 5
2.8
 out of 
5
(25 Reviews) 25
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Rating snapshot (25 reviews)
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9 out of 25(36%)customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Customer Reviews for Why the Whales Came
Review 1 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Saffron
Heart warming yet dull
26 June 2012
‘Why the Whales Came’ is a fresh, heart warming tale crafted around the mysterious island of Samson. This book is an enchanting web of suspense, trust and old folk stories that I would consider suitable for older children and young teenagers. Unlike the title, the story has no mentioning of Wales till the final few chapters, deceiving the readers that the story inside the cover is an animal-related book. Morpurgo takes the reader on a journey alongside local Bryher girl Gracie and her close friend Daniel as they discover the curse of Samson and begin to befriend the so-called mad Birdman.
Although the story contains little action or thrill, it just manages to hold onto the
reader with the slight talk of ghosts, haunted ships and curses. Michael Morpurgo has created a feel good tale and has managed to make us sympathise with the Birdman as we learn who the man is behind the rumours and develop trust and care towards him.
The story does not come together until some way through and occasionally includes a page of writing not involved with the main storyline that left me drifting from the plot. ‘Why the Wales Came’ can therefore be boring at times and slightly long winded, particularly in the section mentioning how the villagers of Bryher collected Timber from the beach. What the first few chapters need is a decent storyline, less of the typical, everyday lives of Gracie and Daniel.
This simple book features many opportunities to twist the story and insert a little excitement that the readers crave but they are mostly cut off to guide the book into following its comfortable yet dull routine and eventually lead to its ‘happily ever after’ finale.
In conclusion, ‘Why the Wales Came’ is a friendly tale that will not leave you reading into the night with suspense but could actually guide you to a deep sleep. Without a defiant storyline or fair amount of action, it can be a dull read. Lacking emotion on several occasions, I would not recommend this to someone else.
Review 2 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Laura1317
I loved this book
24 June 2012
The basic storyline of the book is that Daniel and Gracie have been told all sorts of stories and rumours about the Birdman and have been warned to stay away from him but throughout the book they soon realise that the Birdman isn’t what he first appears to be.
It was a very good book and at the end they stand up for what they think is right, even though the consequences could be dire.
Review 3 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
IHATEBOOKS
Location:Jamiaca
Age:13
Colourless and tiresome
24 June 2012
‘Why the Whales Came’ is a very uninteresting, colourless and tiresome book that’s story line doesn’t go anywhere. It didn’t take me on a captivating journey like books are supposed to; it just bored me to death with its dreary plot. This book is highly predictable but on the back cover it says, ‘A story rich in mystery and superstition?’ They say Morpurgo is the ‘master story teller’ but seem as I was relieved when I didn’t have to bore my eyes onto another page of torture, this punch line is a joke.
It is all about these two friends from Bryher called Gracie and Daniel, who have been warned to stay away from the crazy birdman on the other side of the island, but curiosity gets the better of them. As they venture further into the birdman’s lonely world, they realise he is not what they thought he was. Then disaster strikes as a curse from the abandoned island turns Gracie’s world upside down. How will they lift the curse of Samson…
Even though this book is dull, flat, tedious and awful, Morpurgo does do some good things now and then, For instance when Gracie’s father goes off to war and then her mother receives the brick red envelope about him being lost in action. This is very well written because lots of old adults could relate back to their childhood and stir up old emotions which make it personal to them and that they truly know how Gracie felt.
Overall though I would rate this book 3/10 because of its predictable storyline, tedious characters and irrelevant title. I am extremely disappointed in Morpurgo and will not be reading any of his other books any time soon.
Review 4 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
jake1333
Not impressed
24 June 2012
Why the Whales Came was an interesting book to read, it started off well with a plot/story but towards the end I felt it could have ended better. The book is about a young girl called Gracie and her friend Daniel exploring there small island in search of a mystical man not to be spoken of. The book travels into an adventure of care and passion, as the ‘Birdman’ as he’s called can not hear but can talk for hours and hours. As the book begins with ‘YOU KEEP AWAY FROM THE BIRDMAN, GRACIE’ you sense immediately that the may be a horrible, wicked man who may capture children but as the book goes on it makes you feel intellect with the man and it makes you feel a sense of sadness for him as the book goes on.
Personally I don’t think it’s one of Michael Morpurgo best but it’s still a quite interesting book to read, on the cover its simple with and whales fin and seagulls circling the ‘Birdman’ and him looking out to sea, personally wouldn’t buy the book as it doesn’t give a very good ending nor is the actual story any good. I was reading this book during an English lesson and what I found was you had to read it for the first 100 pages before I got into it, I asked a few other people and they felt the same way.
Overall I believe that if you want a book which offers an interesting theme and story, with no more than 300 pages then WHY THE WHALES CAME is the perfect book to choose.
Review 5 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Connor T
Location:Angmering, West sussex
Age:12
slightly dull, does drag on
24 June 2012
So why did the Wales come then? Well don’t expect a quick, straight to the point answer to that one as this novel lacks many things to make this a ‘good book’. To be honest this book should probably be called ‘why Samson was cursed’ or something as there was no relevance to the Wales coming. The whole book, start to finish, was merely a couple of young school children (Daniel and Gracie) who get to know this ‘scary’ birdman after being told he was mad and they shouldn’t go near him.
It’s not clear as to what era it’s set in. At first I thought it was set on the present day and then I thought it was world war two for the rest of the book. I’d only realised it was set in world war one at the end. The whole story didn’t interest me much either, the plot was original but just wasn’t good enough to get me hooked. The actual plot is about the birdman trying to warn the villagers about the whales and how Samson was cursed. Daniel and Gracie take pity on him and so they slowly build up a relationship with the birdman. Then once they understood that he didn’t mean any harm, Daniel and Gracie are basically the birdman’s eyes and ears for the rest of the book. Because we get to know Daniel and Gracie so well, we almost agree with whatever they do in the book. Despite this we cant emphasise with them a lot because of the lack of the readers interest.
As far as I’m concerned, Michael Morpurgo has written some fantastic classics over the years but this one obviously was rushed and not thought about properly. The characters were a bit dull as well. There was nothing special about them; they were just your average ten year olds. The whole book didn’t go into depth about what actually the whales were here for.
To be honest, I didn’t enjoy reading this novel as much as Morpurgo’s other books. If however you’re looking for a fairly short, averagely written book which wont always have you hooked then Why The Wales Came is the novel for you.
Review 6 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
branchie
Location:Storrington
Age:13
Meh.
23 June 2012
Why the Whales Came is a story of friendship and trust set on the island of Bryher in 1914. I found that the book was quite drab and, contrary to the title, the whales are only mentioned in the last two chapters of the book.
In my opinion the storyline was constricted, the main events were quite drab and the characters ranged from sickly sweet to mind-numbingly boring. Let us take for example the protagonist Gracie Jenkins. With her sugared personality and her simple vocabulary, the reader feels as though they are being drowned in a vat of syrup whilst being sprinkled with icing sugar. Throughout the story, there are many signs of a twist in the storyline or an exciting event, but these are swiftly cut off in order to maintain ‘happy endings’ and a childish and predictable shape.
The storyline dragged on slowly until suddenly enough action for a whole book was packed into the last two chapters, making it pass so quickly that the reader could not savour it. Unfortunately after these few chapters the ending seemed disjointed and unfinished, leaving the reader hanging on a thread of unanswered questions.
The plot was often given away in the chapter headings, ‘Samson’, ‘Castaways’, and, in the rare event in which the storyline is not given away within the first few seconds of the chapter, Morpurgo makes certain to give it away by uncovering facts and leaving little to the reader’s imagination. This made the book a rather less enjoyable experience altogether owing to the fact that the reader is able to guess the ending rather than let the flow of the book take them to it.
The most enjoyable part of the book should have been the relief at the ending when all is returned to normal, but again this passes briefly and introduces a major plot twist in the last few pages, making the end seem staggered and interrupted.
Review 7 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Richard Schaeffer
Age:69
I hate this, I want to die
23 June 2012
Have you ever read something so bad you’d rather be massaged with a tank? If not, you clearly haven’t read this abomination. You’d find better use out of it as toilet paper, although the rough storyline would probably give you a rash. The dull, unimaginative characters were impossible to empathise with, despite it being written in first person.
Gracie is the main character talking us through the dreary events as she and her friend Daniel get stranded on Samson, a deserted and supposedly cursed island after getting lost in a thick fog. They befriend a man thought to be crazy known as ‘The Birdman’, because of the flock of seagulls that circle him wherever he goes. By the end of the story, it's the kids turn to try and convince their island that The Birdman's stories are true, or Bryher will be cursed, and personally this was my favourite part as it meant the book was over.
Knowing what Morpurgo is capable of, this really shocked me, especially considering the likes of 'War Horse' and Kensuke's Kingdom', both with gripping storylines and clever characters. If he thought the simple and tedious descriptions would create a straightforward, undemanding read, appealing to a younger audience, he was doing it wrong. Children will lose interest quickly and pre-adolescences will find themselves lost in the empty space where the narrative should be, with many extraneous sub-plots which threw me off completely.
While reading this, it’s easy to get distracted and want to do other things. I urge you get out of your chair and do whatever it is you’d rather be doing as opposed to staring vacantly at the tree corpses Morpurgo has so cruelly desecrated. In conclusion, 1 star isn’t low enough for this monstrosity and the only thing I’ll be recommending this book to is a paper shredder.
Review 8 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Olivia12
Location:Fish Farm in Duncton!
Age:13
Bad story, good writing!
23 June 2012
‘Why the Whales Came’ is an adventure novel for children. The story is set on the Isles of Scilly at the time of WW1. It is about two young children, Gracie and Daniel, and an old ‘mad’ man, called the Birdman. I would strongly recommend this book for 8-10 year-olds as they would find this action packed and intense, but older readers may find this story lifeless and mundane.
The story is written in the first person, narrated by 10-year old Gracie Jenkins. Gracie is best friends with Daniel, another child on the island. Together they build and sail model boats, until one day forced off their normal beach they go onto the only available beach left, Rushy Bay. Every islander tells their children never to go to Rushy Bay as it is cursed by the Birdman, and just to go near him would send evil spirits into your life. Whilst at Rushy Bay the two children discover messages left in the sand by the Birdman. As Daniel and Gracie’s confidence grows, so doe the relationship between the children and the Birdman. The secret messages all lead up to a face to face meeting where the children learn that the Birdman is deaf.
Halfway though the book we learn that Gracie’s father together with most of the men from the islands have to leave to fight in the war. This left Gracie together with the help of Daniel to take care of her family. Whilst Gracie and Daniel were out fishing one day to help supply their family with food, a fog comes and sweeps them to Samson, the deserted island which is said by the islanders to be cursed. From that day on, a number of ill-fated incidents seem to be landing on Gracie, including her father being ‘lost at sea’.
One day on Rushy Bay, the Birdman is out with Gracie and Daniel on the beach when a group of whales come up onto the shore. The Birdman knows that this is the curse happening again, so he tries to shoo them away. The islanders see the commotion and come with knives and other weapons ready to kill the whales for their meat and horns. Gracie’s mother persuades the islanders to help the Birdman, and together they make the whales flee and lift the curse on the island. The Birdman dies that night, knowing all is safe on the Isles of Scilly. The next morning Gracie’s father appears on the quay, and Gracie then ,well and truly knows that the curse of the island has been lifted.
Many readers may find this plot predictable and obvious, but no-one can doubt the writing skills and language Morgurgo uses in this novel. The characters in this book are well thought out, making the reader feel like they have known the characters their whole life. The setting of the Isles of Scilly together with its history and folk law play a very important role in this book, making all the old wives tales and stories appear more appropriate and realistic.
One thing I, and many other readers may like about this novel, is watching as the relationships between the characters grow. Throughout the book, the bond between the Birdman and Gracie changes quite dramatically. At the beginning, Gracie thought the Birdman was the devil himself and was to be avoided at all costs. However at the end of the story Gracie tries her very hardest to save the Birdman and scare away the whales. Throughout the book the relationship between Gracie and Daniel also grows matures. At the beginning they were obviously great friends, but towards the middle of the book, their relationship becomes stronger as they feel they have a secret that only they know about, meeting the Birdman, which bonds their relationship even more.
Overall I think this children’s novel has quite a lacklustre story, which older readers may find flat. Although Morpurgo’s use of language, description and the way he weaves the relationships of the characters together is its saving grace. I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars.
Review 9 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Someone
Location:England
Age:13
One of my Top 10 books I have read!
22 June 2012
An exciting, magical-realism, mysterious book shows the heartfelt and tense moment throughout the book. It is set in the Isles of Scilly on an island called Brhyer during the 1st World War. A young girl, called Gracie, and a daredevil boy called Daniel, set off to find who the Birdman really was, and was there a curse on Samson?
Back in the 1st World War, Gracie and her friend Daniel go to the beach one day to play with their little sailing boat. However, after their boat disappeared the next day, a message appeared in the sand written out of orange shells saying ‘Z.W’ and next to the writing was their boat. Daniel really wanted to see the Birdman but Gracie didn’t. However, did they go and see the Birdman or not? Meanwhile, Gracie’s Dad tells them there was a curse on Samson.
Why the Whales Came is targeted at around 8-13 years old as it has a simple storyline and is easy to understand. Although I think it is targeted at 8-11 years old, any age will probably enjoy this book. The language Morpurgo uses is simple with no complex vocabulary and you can easily read it without getting confused.
The way Morpurgo presents the characters are easy to follow as you gradually read through the book. Firstly, you can read the descriptive paragraphs which don’t useless information of what they like to do in their spare time, or what food they love the best, not like some books I have read in the past. Secondly, the ‘young’ Gracie is stupidly annoying as she has the most irritating lisp I have ever heard. On the other hand, there are only a few characters in this novel, therefore you don’t get confused.
Altogether this book is definitely in the top 10 books I have read and it is truly one of the books everyone will enjoy.
Review 10 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Why the whales came
Location:Chichester, England
Age:12
A bit dreary, but a good book
22 June 2012
This adventurous story tells the tale of young Gracie and Daniel. In the time of 1914, before World War 1, they both sail their handmade ships on the shore before the boats leading them to the ‘bad-side’ of the island. They come across a strange man who Gracie’s father says to stay away from. Gracie and Daniel soon become aware why their parents warned them of this old, crippled man.
The main characters of this story are Grace Jenkins and her friend Daniel Pender. Two young children where both are obedient but one is mistreated. The plot of the book is very well thought out, as the book goes down many different storylines. Daniel is mistreated throughout parts of the book by his father, but I think that this is a good twist on the story as you want to know what Daniels Fathers background is. Maybe he is taking his anger out on his because he has had a bad past in life or maybe he was mistreated as a child by his father.
The audience of this book would be younger children but the complicated plot of the novel gives a teenager/ older person a good time reading the book. The characters plot lines are very good and even though there are hardly any people are on the island, it seems that there are many different plot lines. But I thought that on some parts of the book were slightly dull knowing that the book is supposed to be aimed at a younger audience.
The end of the story was very written knowing that the rest of the story was dull but I guess that Morpurgo was leading up to a good ending. Overall I think that the story had many good separate character story lines but in some parts dull. I don’t really think that it was one of Morpurgos great stories but I still think it is a good book to have around if you’re bored.
Review 11 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
mockingjay
Location:Rustington, England
Age:13
Dreary and boring
21 June 2012
‘Why the whales came’ was a difficult but for me to get into, often I would lose interest in the storyline because there wasn’t a very exciting situation to keep your attention. Often, I would look around the classroom to find something more interesting to look at, and I would see many of my classmates feeling the same, daydreaming and starting to fall asleep. The only time the book started to pick up was when Gracie and Daniel discovered the real curse of Samson. For me, this book is almost told backwards, as the title is quite misleading, the whales only appear at the end for a very short amount of time and I thought it was quite a bizarre and confusing twist to end the book.
The characters of this book are unrealistic and I think that is one of the reasons I find it hard to stay interested in the story. Take Gracie and Daniel for example, they are only a young age of about 10, but most of the actions and language used is something even a 20 year old would struggle to do or say.
As this book was written by the brilliant Michael Morpurgo, I expected more depth and emotion but instead I was disappointed to find that this was not one of his best books. I have read many books by Morpurgo and I am sad to say that this book didn’t live up to his usual standard. The basic idea of the story could have been quite an exciting book to read but the way that Michael Morpugo tries to develop the story causes it to become less and less interesting.
I would not recommend this book to someone looking for a good read but do not dismiss any other of the titles by this author.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Review 12 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Eleanor F
Location:West Sussex, England
Age:13
Its ok not great
21 June 2012
I have just read ‘Why the Whales Came’ by Michael Morpurgo. It is a novel aimed at 8-14 year olds but is a read anyone can enjoy. I would just like to say do not be fooled by the title ‘Why the Whales Came’ is not a book about Whale watching. Instead it tells the story of Gracie and Daniel. For me this book was a good read but it could have been a little more interesting, and it wasn’t really my sort of book. However I did find it an easy read and the story wasn’t difficult to follow. The plot twists and turns through the book but I have to admit the only reason I read on was to see why it was named ‘Why the Whales Came’. I felt no connection to either Gracie or Daniel and so whenever something happened to them I didn’t really empathise with them. This is because some of the things they do seem out of place for a supposedly pair of ten year olds. Also I feel like Morpurgo doesn’t give us the time to get to know Gracie or Daniel.
On the other hand Michael Morpurgo has used a lot of detailed description, for example the swans were always on the look out for us and would come gliding towards us in a meaningful, menacing way. This made the read slightly more entertaining because it wasn’t dull and you could at least enjoy the adjectives! It is a book about friendships, breaking the rules, and helping the people you love. As far as recommendations go I would not say it’s the worse book I have read but I wouldn’t have to high hopes for it. I have read better Michael Morpurgo books like Born to run but this was still a good book. I found Born to Run a better read because I felt gripped to the storyline as it wasn’t to predictable but it wasn’t confusing either!
It was an ok read but not something I would read again.
Review 13 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Unknown reviewer
A well thought out novel.
21 June 2012
Why the Whales came is a book mostly suited to the age group of around 7-14 years. Michael Morpurgo has produced a fairly good novel with a unique storyline, which contains heart-warming distress and emotional connections.
Our protagonist is a young girl at the age of 10 called Gracie. One day, her best friend, Daniel, persuades her to go up to Samson Hill, the home of the scary Birdman, whom every parent on the island of Bryher warns their children against. Soon enough they learn about the reason of the entire population of Bryher’s terror of him, but quickly prove them all wrong.
There are several enjoyable aspects of this book, but one that I thought was special, was the unpredictable suspense of the ending. Morpurgo brings in a totally new idea near the end of the book, which really grips you in and makes you want to read on. This is something that I feel strongly about, because I find that predictable endings to good books tedious.
Morpurgo has a quite unique writing style, including lots of description and detail. The description and his use of vocabulary allow you to have a clear image in your mind of all the scenes he creates. Obviously every person’s imagination will be different, but Morpurgo gives us a very exact picture which makes it easier to interact with others about the book. This is what I personally enjoy most about the book.
On the whole, the book is certainly well-written and structured. If you are stuck on what to read, then reading this book will hopefully fulfil your requirements of what a good novel should be. If in doubt, I still openly suggest that you give it a try. I was never a particular fan of Morpurgo’s books, but this story certainly forced me to think again.
Review 14 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Nick Review Savill
Age:13
Dispatched within 24 hours - not long enough
21 June 2012
Morpurgo attempted to write a book that is interesting, thrilling and breathtaking but only succeeded in making it breathtakingly appalling. ‘You keep away from the Birdman, Gracie,’ is the first sentence in Why the Whales Came, but perhaps it should be ‘You keep away from that book, Gracie,’ because it will put you off reading … forever.
As soon as the book was handed to me, I made judgements about it; I glanced at the front cover and was immediately put off by it. The front cover is simply uninspiring and dull. A whales fin, a couple of seagulls and an old mans silhouette doesn’t interest me at all. After reading the first page, I soon realised I had another awful and unpleasant read in my hands.
Why the Whales Came is about two children uniting with an unappealing and unkempt human being, called the Birdman, who is judged as being ‘the devil himself’. Despite the fact that rumours were spreading around the island that ‘he fed on dogs and cats’ that ‘he would put spells and curses on you if you went too close,’ the two children, Gracie and Daniel, were intrigued by him, overcame the dreadful gossip and met him. Underneath the tedious plot, there is a meaning and a moral to the story - those who do not fit within the general mould must be accommodated and treated with consideration and compassion like everyone else, or society is no more than a rotten vessel, caulked over to give an appearance of soundness. Nevertheless, just because the plot is deep and meaningful, it doesn’t stop the book from being mindless and completely monotonous.
The text and spoken word is nondescript and fails to inspire the imagination; instead of drawing me into the plot I was left on the periphery with little to relate to or bring me deeper in.
Overall I would never recommend this book to any accomplished reader. As a literacy work it will not enthral them or enhance their reading ability.
Review 15 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
A girl in Yr8 Set 1 English
Location:SPH High School
Age:12
A credit to Michael Morpurgo’s collection
21 June 2012
‘Why the Whales Came’ is a prime example of a well written, gripping magical realism book set during WW1. Morpurgo has created a realistic community on one of the Isles of Scilly, complete with the rustic belief in ghouls, ghosts, curses and other wives tales. This intricate blanket of belief sets the scene for one of Michael Morpurgo’s most unique and heartfelt stories yet.
I would say ‘Why the Whales Came’ is aimed at the 9 -12 age category, although anyone from 9 – 109 is likely to be thoroughly drawn in by this fascinating novel. I have to admit the story does take a while to get started and the vocabulary isn’t complex, but Morpurgo uses this to his advantage and describes the simple island to perfection. Morpurgo’s use of simple language creates an image in your mind is which is complete, due to the fact that you understand every descriptive word of every fundamental sentence.
Another aspect of the book which was good was the fact that characters weren’t just thrown in your face and you were expected to follow them; the characters were carefully thought out and you didn’t encounter whole, boring paragraphs describing what the character likes to eat for breakfast and what size their feet were and any thing else you did and didn’t want to know. Furthermore the characters developed as the book went on and there weren’t too many characters so even a younger child would be able to get their head round them.
As I am the oldest of three girls I understand how annoying it is to have one of your younger siblings go all soppy, act young and put on a lisp. This is why Gracie, one of the main characters, really got on my nerves by the end of the book, (she was a typical curly-haired, innocent little girl) but it was worth persisting with as Morpurgo made the ‘child friendly’ ending worth waiting for.
All in all I think the book is worth reading and a credit to Michael Morpurgo’s collection.
 
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1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Review 16 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Not sure
Location:West Sussex
Age:13
A disappointing read from Morpurgo
21 June 2012
‘Why the Whales came’ is a disappointing read from the usually gripping books by Michael Morpurgo. The pace of the novel is slow and by the time you’ve got to the plot (if anyone would read it for that long) you’re bored out of your head. The story is definitely targeted for more capable younger readers, aged between 7-11, who would most probably find it a most thrilling read.
The language isn’t very complex; however, Morpurgo does manage to create suspense in some parts of the book, which does engage you and makes you read a few more pages to discover what happened. An example of a tense moment was when the Birdman was accused of being a German spy.
‘Why the Whales came’ was set in WW1 on the Isle of Scilly. The novel followed two inseparable friends Gracie and Daniel as they explored the island. The two characters had been told to stay clear of the Birdman, who is known to be a ‘mad’ and ‘dangerous’ because of the curse he supposedly held. After ending up on the cursed island, Samson, bad things started to happen to the children. When Gracie’s dad went to war a telegram arrived saying that he’d been lost in action.
I was very disappointed with the ending as perhaps it may have made the whole book worth reading but no, it was full of weary regularity. A miraculous event just empathised quite how surreal and stereotypical the ending was, especially for this type of novel.
I was so frustrated at the character Grace because of how annoying and painfully cheesy she was. The character was a typical little girl character with a lisp that rang in your head, even though I’d never heard her speak. I felt it was a shame because Morpurgo could have really developed her character into something really impressive. I think too many characters just kept being introduced, which did, I must admit, confuse me a bit and would then therefore puzzle younger readers even more.
I think that overall this book could have been very much improved; had the plot had been introduced quicker and the characters were easier to understand. I found the whole storyline predictable and in particular the ending.
Review 17 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
KathrynSmiles26
Location:Felpham, England
Age:12
Reading this book was like climbing a mountain
21 June 2012
If you want to read a book that is utterly mind-boggling, stimulating, and fast-paced, then don’t even think about picking up “Why the Whales Came”. With a slow start, the book just keeps on going at the pace of a dead snail. This book is definitely not one of Michael Morpurgo’s best as I have read most of his other books and they are of a much higher quality. Reading this book was like climbing up a mountain; painful, tiring and sluggish.
‘Why the Whales Came’ is about two friends, Gracie Jenkins and Daniel Pender who are like two peas in a pod; they do everything together. Living on the Isles of Scilly, there isn’t much for them to do apart from building boats and sailing them. However, these seemingly humdrum activities lead them to the most feared man on the island, the Birdman. This meeting is to change their lives and set them on a course to save Bryher. Set in WW1, this book enlightens the reader of life at that time.
I believe that a good book should be about tense moments, emotive sections and one being totally absorbed in the plot. Nevertheless, this book did not contain any of these factors. There weren’t any exciting parts or tense moments or any emotive sections. Moreover, the characters were difficult to connect with. I thought that Gracie was too ‘nice’ and that made her extremely annoying. For example in chapter 4, where Daniel wants to go up to the Birdman’s Cottage but she doesn’t want to, being the incredibly ‘nice’ person she is, she agrees, following him like a lost puppy. Her family seemed too perfect; a mum, dad, and daughter, sitting together eating dinner, no arguments, no trials and tribulations, hardly true to life. There was only one character that I really sympathised with and that was the Birdman because he was harmless and lonely but everyone thought he was cursed and were scared of him.
In my opinion ‘Why the Whales Came’ should be targeted towards the 7-11 year old market because it is an easy read, about two children of that age group and concerns saving wildlife, a topic that would appeal to this age group. This is not to say that a genre of saving wildlife would not appeal to a wider audience, however, I don’t think that an older reader would enjoy this book as much because it is not tense, fast-paced or exhilarating leaving a very tedious, predictable storyline. For example, in chapter 12 it is obvious that they are going to rescue Bryher as every story for younger readers has a ‘happy ending’. I would not recommend this book to a person looking for a very good read but don’t be swayed to dismiss other titles by this author.
Review 18 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Chloe wants to be Tinkerbell
Location:Neverland
Age:13
It lacked interest and created no tension!
21 June 2012
‘Why the Whales Came’ was hard to get into and at times was lacking interest. When I lost interest, I look around the classroom and see people daydreaming into the distance because they can’t get into it as well. This book made me want to read it more because of the front cover because the picture and the layout made me want to read it, but as I got started to read the book, I found out that this book was nothing to do with whales. This book at the start is very slow to get into because it rambled on about various things that aren’t really to do with actual title on the front cover. Soon after you read the first few chapters the book starts to get a little bit more interesting as Daniel and Gracie discover the curse of Samson. Daniel and Gracie are best friends but they completely ignore what their parents say or tell them to do and go on to meet and find the birdman after people tell them that birdman is completely insane but they don’t listen. After reading this book, I found out the birdman was not mad or completely insane he was kind and heart–warming when he says he will help Gracie’s mother and Gracie when they need him. When Gracie’s father decides to go out to war to fight the Germans, Gracie and Daniel find themselves in serious trouble when they got stranded on Samson. They money starts to get low for the Jenkins family and to top it all off, Daniel gets beaten up by his own family; so could the Birdman be right about the curse of Samson? Finally at the end of this book, there is a part where it actually involves a bit about the whales as I put above it made me want to read more but as I got to the bit about where the whales came into the book it made me want to stop reading the book because there wasn’t a cliff hanger ending like most of Michael’s books but it was just dreary ending and made me want to read my own book instead.
Overall, this book was alright because it created tension and suspect in the middle/towards the end but on the other hand the start of it was dreary and lacked interest. This was one of the author’s worst books and I really wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who asked about this book.
Review 19 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
mrcool2903
Location:Chichester, England
Age:13
Good Book
21 June 2012
The book is set in the Isles of Sicily on an island called Bryher in 1914 just before the First World War. Also there is a cursed island near Bryher called Samson. The two main characters are called Grace, Gracie, Jenkins and Daniel Pender. They start sailing their boats on the west side of the island. The west side of the island is where the mysterious Birdman lives and no one goes to see him. As they keep sailing their boats there, the Birdman starts to contact them by writing in the sand. As the book goes on, Gracie and Daniel find about the Birdman and the cursed island of Samson.
The book is mainly made out of the brilliant writing of Morpurgo. Morpurgo describes everything in the book that you would need to know to get the understanding of it. Every end of a chapter, he gives you a cliff hanger on your care of the characters. He gives excitement to this good, moving storyline which gives it the perfect mix of thrill, action and emotion. He draws you a picture of everything in the book just in your mind. He gives emotions of happiness to sadness even joy. He makes you care for characters when they are in bad situations.
The audience is mainly aimed at teenagers upwards. But it is a bit boring for teenagers in parts of this book. I think Morpurgo should have added a bit more action into the story line.
The book starts with a good starting pages and it increases the brilliant writing skills of this great author throughout the book. The book is hard to get into because it could easily end on the 50th page. When it gets more appealing, it starts to get more of a better story throughout the book. The ending is a bit odd because it shouldn’t happen due to the information before this ending.
Although it is not known that well, it is as good as the great books of Morpurgo.
Review 20 for Why the Whales Came
Reviews (25)
Overall rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Bethanyyy
Not what i expected from Michael Morpurgo
21 June 2012
I thought I would enjoy this book immensely; this is because I have read many other of the well-known author Michaels Morpurgos books.
‘Why the Whales came’ makes you feel like you are reading it forever this is because the structure of the book is terrible.
The name ‘Why the Whales Came’ makes you think that the book is based around whales for the whole time, as I read more of this book I was beginning to wonder why there were no mention of whales, I think that Michael Morpugo purposely did this to make you read on as that is what I wanted to do.
If you are expecting a book about whales then don’t even consider reading this book, even when the whales do come into the story its like Michael Morpurgo just made up a random paragraph so he could title the book ‘Why the Whales Came’.
The very start of the book is boring; the only thing that makes you read on is to see what the title has in common with the story.
As I read more of the book I found it interesting especially as the excitement kicked in It was a easy read, every time I put the book down I wanted to read more.
What I didn’t like about the book were the characters, Gracie- the child and family the book concentrates on is aged nine in the book, but when you read what she says and does if you didn’t know her age you would think that she was a lot younger.
Daniel, Gracie’s ‘best friend’ is probably the most realistic character in the book; he is older than Gracie and balances out Gracie’s gushy un-realistic character to a character you can relate to.
The storyline is predictive but that doesn’t make it seem a bad story it makes you feel as if you are part of it.
Should you read this book? I think if you are willing to keep with the story and don’t expect the excitement to kick in straight away I would say yes. But if you are someone who wants to be gripped right from the start and gets bored easily I would say no.
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