All the Things

A blog by Holly Papa.

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Steven James Petruccio

by | Mar 30, 2009 | Blog | 6 comments

book_cover-narwhalNarwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Steven James Petruccio is the second book in the Smithsonian Oceanic Collection I have read and reviewed. I have to say I am impressed with both the series in quality and it’s intent, which is to promote the education and appreciation of nature. Each book comes with a stuffed animal and my five year old would be ecstatic to have a stuffed animal with a book, since she is a big animal lover and collector of stuffed animals. In each book there is a main character who faces a problem based on real experiences of that particular animal.

Narwhal: Unicorn of the sea is a delightful tale of a Narwhals, a type whale. The males in the species have long tooth, about 9 feet long that whalers often sold as unicorn horns throughout history. Not much is known about these whales as they spend in the winter in the harshness of the Arctic ocean. Just thinking about it makes me cold!

Janet weaves scientific fact with talented story-telling in Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea. The book opens with the Inuit word for Narwhal – Tuugaalik, Tuugaalik with beautiful illustrations done by Steven Petruccio. The reader journeys with Narwhal and experiences sightings of tourist boats, dangerous killer whales and being trapped by frozen sea ice with prowling polar bears waiting at the surface. You spend a year with Narwhale starting in the Arctic summer where his pod spends their time near shore and then the out in the sea during the cold, long, winter. Along the way readers can see lots of other sea life from birds to seals, to starfish, jellyfish and and finally yummy flatfish, at least yummy for Narwhal because that is what he eats. Petruccio’s pictures of beautiful blue water and arctic scenes including some with colorful northern lights makes me want to go and see Narwhals in their natural environment.

I did read this book with my daughter and two of her friends. Their favorite page was the one where Narwhal and another male cross teeth as if in a sword fight. They enjoyed the story and learning that whales are mammals and what types of things they ate. I the reason they liked the book so much is because it is easy for them to see how Narwhals are like humans. They often have family groups, they need to eat, they like to play and they sometimes have scary things happen to them.

If you want a high quality way to introduce children to nature through literature I highly recommend Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea and the Smithsonian Oceanic Collection. This book and series would are some of my top picks for helping children to appreciate and experience the natural world.

What are some other ways you can think that would help children learn appreciate nature?

nonfictionmondayMy review of Narwhale: Unicorn of Sea is part of Nonfiction Monday. To see other books reviewed for Nonfiction Monday see at Tina Nichols at Tales from the Rushmore Kid

Janet has also generously consented to do an author interview and given us an autographed copy of Little Skink’s Tail and Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story to giveaway. Details will be posted later today.


  1. Britt

    I love Narwhals.

    Mine is into porpoises… Does this series have a porpoise book?

    The younger one likes sting-rays…. but these don’t appear board-bookish. 😀

  2. Jessica Leigh

    I’ve presented you with an award on my site. 🙂

  3. Infant Bibliophile

    We own a big “busy zoo” wooden cube toy, with alphabet letters the kids spin, and the animal for “N” is Narwhal. When we first got it, I said aloud, “Narwhal? What the heck is that?” My brainy husband knew. And now if my son asks, I know just the book to get him. 🙂

  4. Janet Halfmann

    Cari, thanks for your wonderful review of my book, Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea. I’m so happy your young listeners enjoyed it.
    Britt, as far as I know the Soundprints Oceanic Collection doesn’t have books on porpoises or stingrays, but there is one on the manta ray: Wings in the Water: The Story of a Manta Ray.
    Infant Bibliophile, I must admit I didn’t know what a narwhal was either until I wrote this book—but I found out they sure are fascinating animals!

  5. Britt

    Ah, Manta Ray. That’ll work.

    And actually, the white-sided dolphin looks a whole lot like the stuffed porpoise we have… Maybe it’s really a stuffed dolphin?

  6. caribookscoops

    Britt – I hadn’t heard of Narwhals until this book. We loved learning about them though.

    Jessica Leigh – Thanks for the award, we love awards.

    Infantbibliophile – This is definitely a good book to check out if you want to learn more about Narwhals.

    Janet – Your welcome. I have enjoyed the books I have read from Soundprints.

    Britt – Well, now we know.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.