Soren's seventh song

Dave Eggers

Book - 2023

Convinced whale songs are boring, young humpback whale Soren decides to write his own, catchier tunes, and even when his music is met with less than encouraging feedback, he finds a way to keep composing.

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room New Shelf jE/Eggers (NEW SHELF) Checked In
Children's Room New Shelf jE/Eggers (NEW SHELF) Due Jun 8, 2024
picture books
Animal fiction
Picture books
Petaluma, California : Cameron Kids 2023.
Main Author
Dave Eggers (author)
Other Authors
Mark Hoffmann, 1977- (illustrator)
Physical Description
pages cm
Ages 6-9.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Male humpback whales are the rock stars of the sea, composing new songs every year that can travel thousands of miles through the ocean. They sing to attract female humpback fans to their breeding grounds. Eggers performs a fun, inspiring riff on this fact, presenting a teen humpback, Soren, who absolutely hates the songs of his elders, dismissing them as too long and boring, and vows to compose new, snazzier songs, "maybe with maracas." But when Soren performs his first composition, every creature around hates it. His friends hate it, including his best friend, Hans. Soren swims back to the cave that has good acoustics, revising again and again in response to Hans' constructive criticisms until, finally, Soren puts the beauty and sound of the ocean into his song--and it's a hit! Eggers adopts a jaunty, joking tone throughout, letting readers know what are actual facts about whales and what he's making up. The illustrations are great at capturing the translucence of water and giving an idea of the tremendous size of the humpbacks. In this hilarious story, Eggers succeeds in giving readers one whale of a lesson on the values of learning from criticism, abandoning what isn't working, and never giving up.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Soren, an adolescent humpback whale, finds the traditional songs of his species "outrageously boring," writes Eggers (Her Right Foot). "Soren wanted to make shorter, catchier songs, with melodies, and choruses, and maybe even maracas or theremins. He had ideas!" The other young whales are ready for change, too, but when Soren debuts his new tune, the response is far from encouraging--in fact, it causes a couple, including best friend Hans, to throw up. But Soren won't give up, employing tenacity that, much to the story's credit, isn't portrayed with clichéd pluckiness. Instead, the whale just keeps doggedly at it, described via an approachable voice and novella-like pacing, as Hoffmann (Iamasaurus) immerses readers in a painterly aquatic world that's both beautiful and funny (the refracted light and ocean currents are almost palpable, while reappearing pink whale vomit delivers as a visual joke). Eventually, a genuine hit does emerge, after Soren eschews his musical preoccupations and incorporates the "bright beauty" that surrounds him. It's hard work to make something that's not only new but wins the hearts of others, but in the hands of these creators--human and whale alike--the labors of the creative process sing. Ages 6--9. Author's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator's agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Feb.)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Soren is determined to revamp the song of his fellow humpback whales. Finding the music of the older male whales "outrageously boring," Soren opts for something catchy, with sounds reminiscent of maracas. Eager to share his new music, Soren performs for his friends, and Hans offers his opinion: That was the worst song ever. After many more revisions (seven iterations altogether), Soren lands on one that becomes a hit under the sea. Eggers tackles important themes--the challenges of the creative process, which entails unavoidable laboring, and the necessity of trustworthy friends willing to give honest feedback. Thanks to Soren's dogged persistence and Eggers' tongue-in-cheek humor, these complex concepts become accessible for young readers. Hoffmann's illustrations depict the widely smiling whales with expressive faces and accessories, like Hans' red deerstalker hat. The sea creatures have personality, and the underwater world is filled with movement and energy. It helps that Soren is a likable character, but the repeated back-and-forth of the seven versions of the song starts to get tedious, making the book a lengthy read. That said, inspiration finally strikes when Soren learns to look outside his cave at the beauty around him--a lovely point well made. (This book was reviewed digitally.) An approachable explanation of tenacity, friendship, and hope. (Picture book. 6-9) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.