The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson Illustrated by Alex Scheffler
This was a surprise hit with Juliet. I grabbed it off the library shelf as we were hurrying to check out our books after story time. For some reason, Juliet was not into playing on the train or reading books quietly while I perused the shelves. So I just had to grab what I could quickly and get out of there.
I chose it because the cover looked appealing--ocean-themed, whales, palm trees--but when I opened it and started reading it to Juliet, I thought maybe I had made a mistake. There was a lot of text on the first page and the whale was no where in sight--instead of listening to the story, she kept saying, "Where's the whale? Where's the whale? Where's the whale?" No amount of "I don't know, honey./Maybe he's hiding./Let's wait and see..." would satisfy her. She just kept repeating that phrase over and over again. I tried to keep reading, but she REALLY wanted to know where he was.
We turned the page and the whale STILL wasn't there, so of course my reading was drowned out by the incessant, "Where's the whale?" chant that had been going on for the past few minutes.
I was ready to give up and just choose another book, but we turned the page and thankfully, there was the whale, floating in the night-time sea, bathed in moonlight. Juliet was instantly satisfied and utterly transfixed with the rest of the story.
It became a favorite--the book she would always choose first when we began our reading time this week. The illustrations are bright, appealing, and fun--and the story is equally exciting to a two year old-- once the whale shows up, that is.