How to Befriend a Butterfly 06/08/20
And the Ocean Was Our Sky
Publisher: Walker Books
Bathsheba is a whale that is destined to hunt humans, even though the hunt is often deadly. Trained as an apprentice, she finds herself the most junior member of a hunting party led by the formidable and infamous Captain Alexandra, who still has the rusted end of a human harpoon sticking out from her head.
When Bathsheba and her crew find a man ship, they also find a sign that puts them on the trail of Toby Wick, a devil that all whales grow up fearing.
In Patrick Ness’ amazing homage to the American literature classic Moby Dick, the worlds of ocean and sky are upturned, and it’s a whale that tells her version of the story of hunter and hunted. With a reversal of point of view (a literal one, with Rovina Cai’s exceptional illustration showing whales swimming upside down, with the ocean floor as their sky) comes Ness’ re-visioning of the patriarchal exploitation of the natural world, and of man’s destructive obsession to conquer what he falsely believes he is master of.
The writing is as beautiful as you might expect, and its literary style, as well as some dark imagery, make it appropriate for older readers.