Willa and the Whale
Chad Morris, Shelly Brown

Book cover image

Narrated By: Rachel Jacobs

Duration: 7 hours and 41 minutes

What to expect

When her mother dies, twelve-year-old Willa feels lost and alone—until she meets and befriends a humpback whale named Meg

While on a whale-watching excursion with her dad, Willa is alone on one side of the boat when she sees a humpback whale. Her awe and wonderment about this massive and beautiful creature turns to shock when the whale communicates with her, introducing herself as Meg.

As their friendship develops, Willa comes to view Meg as a trusted confidant—who offers her advice about difficult issues in Willa’s life.

When a blue whale washes up on shore and dies, the townspeople jump into action with opinions about what to do with it. Willa enlists her friends, family, and the City Council to rescue the body of the whale and donate it to the local university where her mom taught for further study and to display the bones.

Feeling good about getting her community to band together in service of science and conservation, Willa returns to the shore to tell Meg about her amazing experience. But Meg tells Willa that it is time for her pod to migrate, and Willa learns that it’s okay to say goodbye.

Willa and the Whale is a poignant story about caring, loss, and the deep connections that make us human.


Children’s / Teenage fiction: General fiction, Children’s / Teenage personal and social topics: Emotions, moods and feelings

Listen to a sample

“A tale of grief, mourning, and the power of community to restore one’s emotional balance after a tragedy…Willa’s character offers emotional insight into the layers of grief experienced by someone who loses a parent, and builds empathy in young readers.”

School Library Journal (starred review)

“A moving story that presents raw grief and the hope born of healing in a sensitive, realistic manner.”


“Moving and buoyant, an insightful tale of grief, loss, and resilience.”

Kirkus Reviews

“This poignant and uplifting novel is a good read-alike for fans of R. J. Palacio’s Wonder.”

School Library Journal on Mustaches for Maddie

“A moving story of courage and heart.”

Publishers Weekly on Mustaches for Maddie

“This sweet, hopeful, believable, and unsentimental tale rings true. Being brave, growing up, true friendship—this has it all.”

Booklist on Mustaches for Maddie

“An empathy-building novel with a message that’s fun to read…Delivers beyond expectations.”