International Fiction

Isabel of the Whales
by Hester Velmans

Hester Velmans' first sole creation, Isabel of the Whales, is an "eco-romance," bridging fantasy with reality in discovering the fascinating behavior and life-cycle of the humpback whale. Written for children with the idea of empowering young girls and boys to think of themselves as mightier and more capable than they may feel, it follows the story of a young girl who falls overboard while on a whale watch excursion and suddenly finds herself turned into a humpback whale.

Thoroughly researched and based on scientific observations, this fantasy adventure centers aound the main character Isabel who, after being adopted by a pod of humpback whales, is transformed by life in the sea and the challenges of survival. Discovering that she is to become their chosen emissary, she becomes torn between her previous life on land and the knowledge shared by her adoptive family as they migrate from the North Pole to the equator. "Watch out Little Mermaid, here comes Isabel" declares Kirkus Reviews about this exciting new book.

Isabel of the Whales has been introduced in a number of classrooms with an encouraging response from young readers to the plight of the humpback whale. One young reader asks some serious questions about the plot:

Dear Hester,

My name is April and read your book Isabel of the Whales for my book report and now I am sad because of the outcome of the book. My question to you is, Why did you choose the outcome of this book to be sad? Do you know how sad this book made me because Isabel and Jessaloup did not end up being with each other? But even though this book is the only thing I can think of right now, I know that I will be drawn back to read it again and when I do I'll be right back here writing to you again practically crying.

And the author's reply:

Dear April,

I am sorry that the ending of Isabel of the Whales made you cry. You shouldn't be sad, because Isabel and Jessaloup will see each other again one day. I am working on the follow-up book (tentatively titled Jessaloup's Song) in which they have further adventures together, trying to save both the whales and the humans. It's really supposed to be a secret, but I'm telling you because I don't want you to be sad any more.

Best regards,
Hester Velmans

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About the Author

Hester Velmans is well known for her translations from Dutch into English of works by Renate Dorrestein, Lulu Wang, Isabel Hoving, and Jacqueline van Maarsen. Velmans was awarded the Vondel Prize for Translation for Renate Dorrestein's A Heart of Stone and her translation from French into English of Bernard du Bucheron's award-winning The Voyage of the Short Serpent has attracted great attention. Velmans' first sole creation, Isabel of the Whales, is a book written for children with the idea of empowering young girls and boys to influence the natural world. It is followed by Jessaloup's Song which reunites the two principal characters in a second ecological fantasy adventure.

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