I Love You, Blue
I Love You, Blue
Barroux, Hereford: Otter-Barry Books, hb, 978 1 93107 450 0, 2022, £12.99, 40pp.
Fiction, picture book, 3-7 years
There is no lack of picturebooks about the importance of protecting nature but very few deliver this message as clearly and effectively as I Love You, Blue written and illustrated by Barroux.
With minimal text and evocative watercolour illustrations, this picture book tells the story of a young lighthouse keeper, who sets sail and is caught in a storm. As he is drowning, a whale named Blue rescues him. The two become friends, but the whale is nowhere to be found the next day. Puzzled by his disappearance, the boy dives deep into the ocean only to discover that the whale is sick as he swallowed too much plastic waste. It is now the boy’s turn to save his friend.
With just a few contour lines and splashes of colour, Barroux creates a classic story of the ultimate friendship (think Oliver Jeffers or Benji Davies). But it offers the reader so much more than that — by highlighting the fragility of humankind and nature, it emphasises the interdependence of life. Like previous Barroux’s works on the subject (for example, How Many Trees?), it tackles this important issue in a subtle way that is accessible to pre-schoolers. Seeing the boy hugging the whale on the last spread alongside the words “Save our oceans, save our whales”, the reader is instantly drawn into empathy. Accompanying this thoughtful story is an author’s note with facts about how whales can be protected. This factual part can be explored in much more detail with the help of parents or educators.
Combining aesthetic qualities and pedagogical dimensions, I Love You, Blue is a perfect introductory text to spark discussion about the environment and pollution because help does not come just out of the blue.
Review by Ekaterina Shatalova