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Written by Kirsten Pendreigh
Illustrations by Crystal Smith

Published by Groundwood Books

"A gentle yet profound story about a shared journey to peace. Maybe a search for a whale might uncover a way to heal and remember."

Kirkus Review

“In word and picture, we get a sense of nature’s balm.”

Wall Street Journal

“This moving meditation on grief is perfect for fans of Carole Lindstrom, Drew Breckmeyer, Michaela Goade, and Grace Lin”

School Library Journal


"A girl and her mother set out on a kayaking trip to see whales beloved by a recently departed grandfather, but the creatures prove elusive — until, late at night, the pair hear humpbacks breathing in the bay, and the sound soothes them to sleep."

New York Times



Also available at your local bookshop!

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2024 finalist for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize

presented by the BC & Yukon Book Prizes



by Kirsten Pendreigh
illustrations by Crystal Smith

Maybe A Whale children's book

After Grandpa dies, a girl and her mother take the trip he had planned for them, kayaking along the Pacific west coast to look for the whales that he loved.

The trip will do them good, Mom says, but the girl isn’t sure. How can that be true when grandpa isn’t there? And how will they find a whale in all that water, anyway?

Maybe A Whale - children's book - digital art by Crystal Smith
Maybe A Whale - children's book - digital art by Crystal Smith
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In this lyrical story, mom and daughter find the space to miss Grandpa and reconnect with each other in the wild beauty of nature.


And they come to realize that — perhaps like whales — those we’ve loved are always with us, even if we don’t see them anymore. 

Maybe A Whale - picture book - illustration by Crystal Smith
Maybe A Whale - picture book - illustration by Crystal Smith
from the book
create your own whale crafts!
printable mobile for Maybe A Whale
Printable activities for kids

Cut and assemble a discovery spinner where whales & jellyfish appear in the ocean below!


Make your own mobile to hang up—then take a kayak trip & find underwater creatures!


watch the diy video

watch the diy video


Included in the Bank Street Best Books of 2023 list.

(2024) The Best Children's Books of the Year [2024 edition]. Bank Street College of Education. 

[download the full pdf here]

Listed as a great whale-themed children's book by the Montreal Gazette.

(2024, April 25.) Books for Kids: A whale of a tale. Montreal Gazette. Bernie Goedhart

[read the article here]

A Times Colonist article about the BC and Yukon Book Prizes that Maybe A Whale has been short-listed for.

(2024, April 11.) 11 Island-area authors on shortlist for BC and Yukon Book Prizes. Times Colonist. Mike Devlon. 

[you can see all the finalists in the article here]

A lovely review on the Quebec Library Association website.

(2024, Feb 4.) Review: Maybe a Whale. Quebec Library Association. Erin Dunlop.

[take a peek over here]

One of the New York Times picks for books on grief in this article.

(2023, December 27). Helping a Child Navigate Grief? Open A Picture Book. New York Times. Elisabeth Egan.

[the article is here but requires a subscription]

Recommended by a fabulous author (Gabi Snyder) on the Oregon Artswatch gift-giving list!

(2023, December 18.) Oregon Artswatch. Gift guide: Oregon authors recommend favorite books for holiday giving and reading. Amy Leona Havin.

[see the full guide here]

Included on the Best of 2023 Fanfare Booklist by Horn Books.

(2023, The Horn Books Inc). Fanfare Booklist 2023. The Horn Book Inc.

[see the list here]

Starred review by The Horn Books Magazine.


(2023, November/December issue). Review of Maybe A Whale. The Horn Book Inc. Adrienne L. Pettinelli

[you can read the review online here]

Listed as 2023 favourite kids book by the Canadian Children's Book Centre.

(2023, December 15) December Booklist: Our Favourites of 2023. December Newsletter, Canadian Children's Book Centre.

[check out the list here]

Review by School Library Journal (membership required to view).

(2023, December 2). Maybe A Whale. School Library Journal.

[review is here but requires login]

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books newsletter highlight.

(2023, Summer/Fall). Maybe A Whale. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. 

[available through Project Muse here]

Included in this amazing article in the Hakai Magazine.

(2023, November 17). Ten Coastal Kids’ Books Offer an Ocean of Adventure. Hakai Magazine, November 17 / 2023. Adrienne Mason.

[read the online article here]

See Canadian Review of Materials' highly recommended book review.

(2023, October 6). Maybe a Whale. Canadian Review of Materials, Volume XXX / Issue 5 - October 6 / 2023. Julia Pitre.

[see the review here]

Read this short description on Sal's Fiction Addiction blog.

(2023, October 10). Maybe A Whale, written by Kirsten Pendreigh and illustrated by Crystal Smith. Sal's Fiction Addiction.

[read it here]

Listed on this CBC Books article with other amazing kids books. 

(2023, September 19). 45 picture books to check out this fall. CBC Books.

[take a look here]

We received a 5 star review on the Children's Literature Comprehensive Database.

(2023, August). Maybe A Whale. CLCD - Children's Literature Comprehensive Database.

[subscription based service only]

Take a look at the review on Lynne Marie's blog about 'Maybe A Whale'


(2023, July 22). PPBF: Maybe a Whale by Kirsten Pendreigh. Literally Lynne Marie.

[review here]

Read the review on Vivian Kirkfield's blog about 'Maybe A Whale' along with some craft suggestions for kids!


(2023, August 17). Perfect Picture Book Friday: MAYBE A WHALE Plus Giveaway. Vivian Kirkfield – Writer for Children.

[article here]

Reviewed in The Wall Street Journal along with some other fantastic kids books about dealing with loss. (Behind paywall—must be subscribed) 

(2023, August 11). Children’s Books: Bereft, Bewildered and Eager to Remember. The Wall Street Journal.


[article here]

Read the interview from Open Book online where Kirsten and I talk about behind-the-scenes of making our children's book!

(2023, August 10). Co-Creators Kirsten Pendreigh & Crystal Smith Help Young Readers Find "Comfort and Connection in Natural Spaces". Open Book.


[interview here]

Kirkus Reviews article, "A gentle yet profound story about a shared journey to peace." on Maybe A Whale.

(2023, August 1). Maybe A Whale. Kirkus Reviews.

 [review here]

A review Maybe A Whale listed on Project MUSE.

(2023, August). Maybe a Whale by Kirsten Pendreigh. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Johns Hopkins University Press.


[review here]

Read the CBC article, Children's book about kayak journey to see whales seeks to help kids demystify death and grieving.

(2023, July 30). Children's book about kayak journey to see whales seeks to help kids demystify death and grieving. CBC News.

[interview here]

Listen to Kirsten Pendreigh's radio interview on CBC's North X Northwest segment as she discusses the origins and story behind the book.

(2023, July 29). Kirsten Pendreigh explores grief and healing in new children's book "Maybe A Whale". North by Northwest with Margaret Gallagher. 

[radio interview here]

Reviews on Goodreads[reviews here]

REVIEWS, articles & lists
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