How to Put a Whale in a Suitcase. Um…. okay? Was my first thought when I saw this title. Then quickly forgot about it. I then saw the display for our holiday/winter newsletter and there it was. Big as life. Or as big as a 0.4″ H x 9.5″ L x 6.6″ W (0.45 lbs.) 32 pages book can be. A quick look at the thinness and the modest amount of text, and I thought, “pffft! I can do this in no time.” Yeah, do not think that. Sure, you can read it in about 10 seconds, but during that first read I thought, “Huh?” This is not a book about trying to take your stuffed toy on vacation. Or having to learn that sometimes we must let go of the “comfort blanket” and go to grandma’s house without it. No, this is something more.
This is a book that Raul Guridi created to rip your heart out. To twist you on your head and throw you about. You will love it or hate it. You will think the simplistic art is genius or just doodles. You will eventually learn that this is a book about migration. This is a book about being made to leave home and all that is familiar. Your entire life. Your whale. How does one pack a lifetime (no matter how short or long it might have been so far) into one small suitcase? How do you leave your things behind?
I am not sure a child listening to this book will pick up all the subtleness of this theme. This is a book for an adult. How you would gift it I am not sure. Unless possibly to a teacher you know who is teaching immigration/migration or current events. I could see it in a poetry class or a high school social studies or as said, current events class. There is a lot going on that makes this a book that is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. In several ways, it is a shot of tequila with a BFW swimming about.