“Have Ye Seen the White Whale?”

The capstone of our literature series so far has been finishing the exciting and memorable story of Moby Dick by Herman Melville.  We read an abridged version, so we could get through it in a timely manner for studies, and also to bridge the reading levels of both kids.

“Call me Ishmael.  A few years ago with no money in my wallet and nothing interesting to do on shore, I thought I would sail around a little on the watery part of the world.  There is something mystical about being on the water, free of the land…”                                — Herman Melville
The characters were beautifully developed and the story was exciting to the very end.
Sophia’s favorite character in the story was the great white whale, himself, Moby Dick. She thought him “…mysterious and super-cool. Like the king of the ocean!”  
Oliver’s favorite character was Queequeg. “He was so nice and had lots of traditions in his tribe that made him peaceful. He was very loyal and brave”.
There is a museum in New Bedford, MA called the New Bedford Whaling Museum (www.whalingmuseum.org). Only 45 minutes from Newport, it is now high on our list to visit. Each year in January, they have a Moby Dick Marathon where they read the entire novel in one 24-hr, non-stop period. (See whalingmuseum – moby-dick-marathon) The date of the reading is based on the date that author Herman Melville, a young lad of 21, sailed out of New Bedford harbor on a whaling ship, starting his experience at sea and the basis for the book.  Melville was born in 1819 and published Moby Dick, his second novel and his greatest work, in 1851.
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Reading Moby Dick has inspired some great discussions about whales, their relationships to humans and their fate in our oceans. As part of our dialogue, we watched a Greenpeace video on the banning of whale hunting in Japan.  We also watched one of my favorite films, “Whale Rider”, the beautiful 2002 film on Maori tribes and their intimate connection with the whales of New Zealand.  There is a film of Moby Dick that was released in 2010, with Donald Sutherland, Ethan Hawke and William Hurt we are curious about and I do wonder about the original 1956 version?  
Whale Rider, PG-13 film. “A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize”.  
And whales, beautiful whales.

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