Jessica Lanan
Cover image of picture book 'The Fisherman and the Whale' featuring a small fishing boat on the surface of the sea and a large humpback whale under the water

The Fisherman and the Whale

Written and illustrated by Jessica Lanan
Simon & Schuster, 2019
ISBN: 1534415742

A fisherman takes his son for a trip out on the water. When they encounter a whale entangled at sea, they realize a connection that transcends the animal kingdom.

This emotional wordless tale speaks of our complicated relationship with the natural world and the deep bond that all living creatures share.

Available now! Thanks for supporting your independent bookstore. You can also help support the book by checking it out from your local library or writing a review.

Also available in Korean.

Featured in the 2019 Society of Illustrators Original Art Exhibit, New York
A Colorado Book Award finalist for 2020
Winner of the 2020 Bull-Bransom Award

It is a book with an agenda — and it is also breathtaking.

Sabrina Montenigro, The Horn Book, Calling Caldecott blog

The day’s events are wordlessly and beautifully conveyed in watercolor and gouache … This impressive and eloquent tale is recommended for all picture book collections

★ School Library Journal, Starred Review

The highly dramatic paintings, employing a palette of blues, browns and grays, are sure to stimulate a range of emotions, encouraging readers to return again and again … This wordless picture book, with its breathtaking paintings of the sea, does a splendid job of helping young readers realize that our planet must be shared.

★ Shelf Awareness, Starred Review

Lanan tells her wordless tale in strong, confident watercolors…[her] cinematic storytelling pace never flags. She distills the global problem of sea life trapped by nets into a tightly focused narrative in which those who caused the damage are able to save the animal they hurt.

Publisher's Weekly

Lanan’s wordless narrative pulls viewers right into the choppy waves of her gouache-and-watercolor world… This compelling fictional introduction raises awareness and empathy for a very real environmental problem.


Lanan’s watercolor and gouache paintings are expansive and cinematic [...] a compelling tale worth sharing.

Classroom Resources

Early sketch for 'The Fisherman and the Whale'

Interview with Elizabeth Dulemba

A 2020 interview with Elizabeth Dulemba on the inspirations and process behind making The Fisherman and the Whale. See more sketches, process photos, and images from my research trip to Vancouver Island.