The Prince of Whales by R.L. Fisher
The Prince of Whales is a children’s book—maaaybe a middle-grade book. There are even pictures. I know that in fifth grade I would have, unfairly, discarded it as childish.
Toby Whale, a young whale with a penchant for singing, must go on a quest to find his true voice and use it to help save the world from ecological destruction and, strangely, mental decay.
A more simple way to put would be: it’s like if Fern Gully and Rockadoodle were mixed together and set in the ocean.
I read it in one sitting, in the bath. Admittedly the water was much cooler than I’d have preferred by the time I was done, but still. My head was a little dull from celebrating my husband’s birthday the day before, and I only mention this in case my thorough enjoyment of this goofy little book is mostly due to an addled state of mind.
Other reviews says The Prince of Whales is so bad it’s good, and as I was cackling along while reading, I sort of agreed with them. For goodness sakes, there is a pod of killer whales that are predatory musical managers. There’s a seal stage performer that peppers his lines with just awful nautical puns. This book is bizarre and stupid in all the right ways.
But calling it bizarre and stupid isn’t quite fair. It’s a kids’ book. It’s supposed to be goofy and way too much. R.L. Fisher delivered, but unlike some other kids’ books that are way too much in a way that only children can enjoy, Fisher wrote the rare kids’ book that even adults can get a serious kick out of.
I feel like it goes without saying that The Prince of Wales isn’t flawless. The one plot—of Toby Whale finding his true voice so he may sing a song that would get through to the hearts of humanity—is fine in that ridiculous-childish-way. There’s a secondary plot, though—that of the Dream Eater—that feels slapdash and confusing and sloppy.
Early scenes, before Toby meets the cast of goofy characters that bump this book up a notch, are a bit dry and boring. Luckily, thanks to the length of this extremely short book, it’s not 15 minutes before you’re past it.
And now, an admission: this might not be female fantasy, as I could find no information on R.L. Fisher. However, about three pages in, I feel like I got some sort of confirmation:
Luma’s motherly concern quickly gave way to anger.
“Calm down, Luma,” Brujon said, though he was anything but calm.
Okay, that’s specious at best, but it made me chuckle regardless.
I enjoyed The Prince of Whales as a fun, quick and, yes, stupid read. As someone who still unabashedly loves Rockadoodle, though, my judgement might be suspect. I’m not sure I’d recommend this book so heartily that a normal adult go out of their way to track it down, but if you stumble across it and enjoy a good stupid children’s thing, I’d say snap it up.
If you have younger kids, though, especially kids intrigued by the ocean, this could be a fun book that you and your kid could enjoy together—in that case, it might be worth ordering.
Cover art by: Unknown :(