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Children's Fiction Marine Life

Waiting for the Whales Read-Along

by (author) Sheryl McFarlane

illustrated by Ron Lightburn

read by Priscilla Holbrook

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Sep 2016
Marine Life, Environment, Multigenerational
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2016
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 5
  • Grade: p to k
  • Reading age: 3 to 5


Waiting for the Whales illuminates the unique friendship between grandparent and child and celebrates the restorative power of the natural world.

An old man lives alone on a bluff overlooking the sea, tends his garden and waits. Only when the whales return each year to the bay in front of his cottage is his loneliness eased. Until, one day, an unexpected visitor arrives. Originally published over thirty years ago, this award-winning picture book is sure to enchant a whole new generation of readers.

About the authors

Sheryl McFarlane was born in the Ottawa Valley and was raised in Arizona, but the west coast snatched her heart more than thirty years ago. She is the mother of three wonderful daughters who often appear in her books in disguised form. She is the author of four board books and eight picture books, including: A Pod of Orcas, This is the Dog, Jessie's Island and Waiting for the Whales.
Sheryl's books have won and been short-listed for several readers' choice awards, the Governor General's Award, the IODE Award, the BC Book Prize for Children's Literature, and the Mr. Christie Award. Sheryl has toured with the Peter Gzowski Golf Tournament for Literacy, Save the Children, and The Canada Council. She has judged creative writing for The Writer's Union of Canada, The Canadian Children's Book Centre, and the BC Creative Writers' Grant Program, been a writer in residence in many schools, been involved in many young author programs, and has led children's writing workshops for beginning and established writers.
A former teacher, Sheryl provides professional development in language arts for school districts, Early Childhood Educators, Primary Educator Associations and the International Reading Association. She frequently acts as a consultant for publishers on both educational and trade projects. Her first young adult novel was published in the fall of 2006.


Sheryl McFarlane's profile page

Ron Lightburn's career as a children's book illustrator was launched with his Governor General's Award-winning artwork for Waiting for the Whales in 1991. Since then he has illustrated numerous other bestselling picture books and has become internationally renowned for his sensitive storytelling skills and range of illustration styles. For more information, visit and follow him on Twitter @ronlightburn.

Ron Lightburn's profile page

Priscilla Holbrook's profile page


  • Commended, Today's Parent's Best Canadian Kids Books list selection
  • Commended, Today's Parent's 100 best Canadian kids' books of all time
  • Winner, IODE Book Award - Toronto Chapter
  • Winner, The National Chapter of Canada IODE Violet Downey Book Award
  • Winner, Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award
  • Winner, International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Canada Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Award - Illustration
  • Winner, CLA Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award
  • Winner, The Governor General’s Literary Awards (GGBooks) - Young People’s Literature Illustrated Books
  • Commended, CCBC Our Choice
  • Winner, Canadian Library Association (CLA) Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award
  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) Our Choice

Editorial Reviews

"Written in precisely cadenced prose, McFarlane's story about the cycles of life--while not a new theme--is so deftly handled that it becomes genuinely moving."

Publishers Weekly

"A delicate and beautifully executed book."

Canadian Literature

"This beautifully written, sensitive story reflects on an important relationship between young and old...This text is skillfully enhanced by the accomplished artwork of Ron Lightburn...Twenty-five years later this enchanting book has been republished, proving that it is a classic appealing across the generations. It should be welcomed once again on the shelves in school libraries and classroom collections."

Resource Links

"Waiting for the Whales, a multi-award winning (for both author and illustrator) picture book, was described as 'timeless' when originally published in 1991. Twenty-five years later, it lives up to that praise, remaining very much a story for today. The premise, setting, themes and illustrative style still inspire in this classic story written from the heart…Be sure to add this gentle but captivating story to your picture book collection. Waiting for the Whales will remain a favorite to reread for generations to come."

CM Magazine

"The gentle, distancing tone is reflected in softly detailed color-pencil art, with careful compositions and dramatic shadows...Poetic and comforting."

Kirkus Reviews

Other titles by Sheryl McFarlane

Other titles by Ron Lightburn

Other titles by Priscilla Holbrook