Soren’s Seventh Song

Cameron Kids. Feb. 2024. 56p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781951836733.
Gr 3-6–Noting that humpback whales are renowned for their long, repetitive songs (“This part of the book is true,” the author writes. “But the rest of this book is made up”), Eggers presents Soren, a bored young humpback (“what we might consider a teenager”) who thinks that short, catchy numbers “with melodies, and choruses, and maybe even maracas or theremins” would be far cooler. Unfortunately, his first try at a composition is so bad that one flippered listener throws up. Subsequent revisions fare no better. Even his best friend Hans is discouraging: “I would say it was awful, but it was not good enough to be awful.” Undeterred, Soren keeps at it, wisely dropping the maracas along the way while incorporating what he sees and feels about his ocean world until, after many failures, he not only manages to please the lobsters (a literally hard crowd) but has the hit whale song of the year—popular even with country-music loving freshwater audiences! Hoffmann echoes the tale’s jocular pitch with sinuous seascapes featuring marine fauna sporting tiny hats as well as the odd clouds of krill vomited up by chunky cetacean critics with human expressions. There’s a serious message beneath all the badinage, though, about the relationship between creativity and hard work.
VERDICT Despite (or because of?) murky waters that seem related to writerly indulgence, this develops a theme worth the hearing, even for creative readers well beyond the younger reaches of the picture book audience.

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