eye of whale cover seal

The Eye of the Whale

by Jennifer O’Connell

Tilbury House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-88448-335-9
$16.95 May, 2013

- Green Earth Book Award
- Moonbeam Gold Award
- Maryland Blue Crab Award, Honor Book
- Reading Is Fundamental's 2013-2014 STEAM Multicultural Booklist
- 2014 Maine Literary Awards Finalist 

- The Society of School Librarians International, Honor Book  


“With this story that amazes while it informs, readers cannot help but be touched by a singular event in which an ensnared humpback whale makes a profound connection with her rescuers. …O’Connell expertly merges the art of storytelling with journalistic excellence in recounting this well-researched past event. …The painted illustrations portray the situation from various perspectives and are a strong complement to the gripping text.” —Kirkus

“Will spark discussions about the whale’s ability to experience and demonstrate emotions.”—School Library Journal


“Captures the excitement and danger of a real life rescue…” —Parents Express, Montgomery Media


“Spare lyrical prose and stunning illustrations…” —Washington Parent


“The limited text and enchanting pictures will leave young and old readers thrilled with the joyous ending, and in awe of the intelligence of whales and their ability to communicate.” —Children’s Literature 


“Sure to be popular in the Bay Area and with whale-lovers everywhere.” —Bay Views

(for the full reviews go to press)

On a cool December morning off the coast of San Francisco, a local fisherman radioed a distress call to shore. He had discovered a humpback whale tangled in hundreds of yards of crab-trap lines, struggling to stay at the surface to breathe. A team of volunteers answered the call, and four divers risked their lives to rescue the enormous animal. What followed was a rare and remarkable demonstration of animal behavior.  The whale swam around the divers in joyous circles, then gently nudged and looked directly at each diver. The divers say that it was one of the most fantastic moments of their lives.

This celebrated story will make you wonder about animal emotions and the unique connections we can have with animals—even whales.


Comments from the Author

When I first read about this rescue it gave me goose bumps, and I knew right away that I would create a picture book about it. I traveled to San Francisco and interviewed one of the divers, James Moskito and crew member, Kathi Koontz, who gave me a tour of the Marine Mammal Center. Then I went out on the rescue boat, Superfish, with Captain Mick Menigoz to the area where the rescue took place and began imagining what it must have felt like to be a part of the daring rescue.

James Moskito was kind enough to make a small clay model of the whale for me, showing how the humpback looked when he first dove underwater to investigate. As he wrapped  embroidery thread around and around the small clay whale, I began to understand how badly she was tangled and how I would depict her in my illustration.


Creating this book was an amazing journey full of twists and turns and many, many revisions. The experience pushed me both as a writer and an illustrator and was a thrill from start to finish!



“This true story of courage and compassion is brought to life by stunning illustrations.  You will be awed and humbled by the deep connections possible between humans and animals.  And you will be inspired to do all you can to help protect whales.”

Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE
Founder - the Jane Goodall Institute
& UN Messenger of Peace 


“This is a beautiful story, one of the most moving I have heard about, showing that a whale is capable of gratitude, and can understand that some humans, at least, want to help whales, not harm them. The drawings and the story are simply enchanting. I don't believe it is possible to read this without tears, but good tears for a change!  I highly recommend it to all children, who will understand its significance immediately!”

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson,
New York Times bestselling author of When Elephants Weep

Ordering Information

Visit your local bookstore (www.indiebound.org/indie-store-finder)
Order online:
www.bn.com (Barnes & Noble)

or call Tilbury House Publishers at: 800-582-1899