The best narwhal books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about narwhals and why they recommend each book.

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By Ben Clanton,

Book cover of Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea (a Narwhal and Jelly Book #1)

A happy-go-lucky narwhal and non-nonsense jellyfish discover the depths of the ocean together. This joyful and silly graphic novel celebrates friendship, adventure, and collaboration. The simple illustrations are compelling and accessible, drawing kids into a series of books that will leave them giggling.

Who am I?

I'm a world-class underwater explorer, writer, photographer, speaker, and filmmaker. A pioneer of technical rebreather diving, I have led expeditions into icebergs in Antarctica, volcanic lava tubes, and submerged caves worldwide. As a child, these fanciful places were just a part of my wildest dreams. The Aquanaut tells the story of how I turned my imaginative journeys into reality and became a celebrated underwater explorer.

I wrote...

The Aquanaut

By Jill Heinerth, Jaime Kim (illustrator),

Book cover of The Aquanaut

What is my book about?

This inspiring picture book encourages readers to explore their world, build their self-esteem and imagine what they can do and become when they grow up. Through beautiful, spare text, Jill Heinerth tells her story about a girl who feels too young, too little, and too far away from her dreams. But you don’t need to wait to grow up. It doesn’t take much to imagine all the things you can do and be. What if your bedroom were a space station? What would it be like to have flippers or tusks?

In your own home, you can explore new worlds and meet new friends. Jaime Kim’s luminous art transports readers back and forth through time to see how Jill’s imagination as a young girl laid the pathway to her accomplishments and experiences as an underwater explorer.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

By Jules Verne,

Book cover of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

This is an iconic novel that projects the mind of an author who was years ahead of his time. Many of Verne’s books have been put on the big screen, and a hundred-plus years after his death his books are still being published. Personally, I believe Verne was the author who opened the door for future science fiction writers of the twentieth century. The technology he used in his books was futurist for the time they were written and the key to being a successful science fiction writer.

Who am I?

As an engineer and a science teacher I am passionate about science and science fiction stories. I also enjoy adventures. Together these lifelong passions led me to write my first science fiction novel. I have years of technological and educational training. My first job was with IBM where I worked in the Quality Control and Engineering departments. Throughout my life, I’ve been an avid sportsman and have trained in powerlifting and a variety of martial arts. When I’m not writing or conjuring science fiction novels, I enjoy teaching my grandchildren how to drive my tractor while working the fields around my home in the Hudson Valley.

I wrote...

Beneath the Dragon's Triangle

By Tony Dellamarco,

Book cover of Beneath the Dragon's Triangle

What is my book about?

The reputation of the Dragon’s Triangle for unexplained events is just beginning a new chapter. An obvious neophyte in this deadly game where people are starting to disappear, Andrea has nowhere to turn. Sean is a retired Navy SEAL officer who teams up with Andrea only to find that they are both in over their heads. The enemy seems to have limitless power, and there is only one person Sean knows who can help them stay alive. He turns to Paul O, a man of great wealth who owns a company that builds ships and satellites for the U.S. government. A private war breaks out with Paul, Andrea, and Sean pitted against an unknown, fanatical group that takes place in the air, on and beneath the sea, and on land.

The Lore of the Unicorn

By Odell Shepard,

Book cover of The Lore of the Unicorn

The unicorn and the dragon are still the two most ubiquitous animals to emerge from the host of fantastic creatures that began spreading through popular books, art, and film in the late 1970s. Years before the unicorn’s commercial popularity, Odell Shepard’s classic book, The Lore of the Unicorn, traced the millennia-long cultural transformations of the mysterious animal, beginning with an early traveler’s tale of the wild asses of India. 

I admire Shepard’s blending of personal voice with wide-ranging research and commentary. He opens his introduction with, “On the table before me, there lies a long straight wand of ivory,” a walking stick made of narwhal tusk, which for centuries had been accepted as unicorn horn.

Who am I?

Ancient mythical animals are all around us in words and images. Following the transformations of such animals through literature and art across millennia has been my passion since the early ’80s. It was then, after years of writing and teaching, that I became intrigued by a winged and fishtailed lion figure on an antique oil lamp hanging in my study. That hybrid creature led me to the eagle-lion griffin and my first published book, The Book of Gryphons. I have followed a host of mythical beasts ever since. My most recent book, The Phoenix: An Unnatural Biography of a Mythical Beast, was published in a 2021 Chinese translation.

I wrote...

The Book of Fabulous Beasts: A Treasury of Writings from Ancient Times to the Present

By Joseph Nigg,

Book cover of The Book of Fabulous Beasts: A Treasury of Writings from Ancient Times to the Present

What is my book about?

This illustrated collection of writings about fantastic animals, from the Babylonian epic of creation to The Hobbit of J. R. R. Tolkien, spans millennia. More than a hundred primary sources in multiple literary genres chart imaginary animals’ classical and medieval rise, post-Renaissance fall, and return to the world on the other side of belief. 

Getting permission to reprint texts and art from international libraries and museums was, of course, the final stage of research for this book. The most surprising art permission I finally acquired was for the Scandinavian Midgard Serpent. After a thousand years, the manuscript had recently been returned from Denmark to Iceland. A joy to produce, Fabulous Beasts provided a body of research for my later books.

World of Wonders

By Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Fumi Nakamura (illustrator),

Book cover of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

There’s this rumor that poets look longer and harder at the ornaments of the world than do anyone else.  They keep looking, and looking, and looking, after most everyone else has long ago looked away, moved on. Here, in the wonderful world of poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s first book of nonfiction, whimsy and reverence twine like the DNA helices of the flora and fauna she examines. In her essay on the firefly, I adore the part when the insects “…lose their light rhythm for a few minutes after a single car’s headlights pass. Sometimes it takes hours for them to recalibrate their blinking patterns.”

Who am I?

Like many who carry over childish curiosity into adulthood, I'm attracted to forbidden places. I trespass. When I heard that a portion of South Africa’s coast was owned by the De Beers conglomerate and closed to the public for nearly 80 years, plunging the local communities into mysterious isolation, I became obsessed with visiting the place. Afterward, I began studying carrier pigeons—the amazing flying things that folks use to smuggle diamonds out of the mines. I wrote a book about this, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers. I'm also the author of nonfiction books about the first-ever photograph of the giant squid, working on a medical marijuana farm, and American food culture.

I wrote...

Flight of the Diamond Smugglers: A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed Along Coastal South Africa

By Matthew Gavin Frank,

Book cover of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers: A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed Along Coastal South Africa

What is my book about?

For nearly eighty years, a huge portion of coastal South Africa was closed to the public. With many of its pits now deemed “overmined” and abandoned, American journalist Matthew Gavin Frank sets out across the infamous Diamond Coast to investigate an illicit trade that supplies a global market. Immediately, he became intrigued by the ingenious methods used in facilitating smuggling, particularly, the illegal act of sneaking carrier pigeons onto mine property, affixing diamonds to their feet, and sending them into the air.

Frank soon meets Msizi, a young diamond miner, and his pigeon, Bartholomew, who helps him steal diamonds. It’s a deadly game: pigeons are shot on sight by mine security, and Msizi knows of smugglers who have disappeared because of their crimes.

Ice! Poems About Polar Life

By Douglas Florian,

Book cover of Ice! Poems About Polar Life

“Fish and penguins, squids and seals,

All find krill make splendid meals.”

So begins Douglas Florian’s poem about krill. Writing nonfiction poetry is no small feat and this book is a masterpiece of that artform. Each two-page spread focuses on an area or a creature related to the polar regions and features a poem, illustration, and short chunk of expository writing to give the reader more information on the subject. It covers subjects including ptarmigans, narwhals, musk ox, and many more. This book is funny, clever, and a joy to read aloud. Readers will love this one!

Who am I?

I’m a geographer and the author of more than 170 (mostly nonfiction) books for kids. I began my career at the National Geographic Society and have worked on a variety of projects for them over the last three decades. I also taught middle-school geography for years. In addition to my featured book, I have written numerous magazine articles on topics related to polar regions—from Siberia’s Eveny people to climate change in the Arctic. I am the author of Living in the Arctic and several books on countries in the polar regions. I was recently interviewed by PBS Books for my book on Benjamin Franklin’s scientific work.

I wrote...

Penguins & Polar Bears: A Pretty Cool Introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic

By Alicia Klepeis, Grace Helmer (illustrator), Gestalten (editor)

Book cover of Penguins & Polar Bears: A Pretty Cool Introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic

What is my book about?

Penguins and polar bears never get to meet—except maybe at the zoo! But what else is there to know about the Arctic and Antarctica, two of our planet’s most mysterious, fascinating, and vulnerable regions?

Penguins and Polar Bears takes the reader on an adventure to the ends of the world, exploring the land, as well as the the unique and resilient animals and plants to be found at the North and South Poles. You’ll dive into the chilly oceans, skim over the brightest ice sheets, and meet the incredible people who live and work in these regions. So pack your warmest clothes and get ready for a very cool journey!

Let's Make Comics!

By Jess Smart Smiley,

Book cover of Let's Make Comics!: An Activity Book to Create, Write, and Draw Your Own Cartoons

The author of this book is a working cartoonist and illustrator and that makes this one of the best books out there. The book packs an immense amount of practical information about how to draw cartoons into easy, fun worksheet-style activities. Different styles of writing, as well as complex concepts, are communicated in simple visually striking lessons. I have to admit if I was giving a young artist a book (and they already had both of mine) I would definitely give them this book. It’s comprehensive, fun, and simple. It also allows the young artist room to draw in their own style, instead of copying a given drawing. That’s one of my pet peeves!

Who am I?

My name is Art Roche and I've been drawing cartoons and comic strips for over twenty-five years. I wish everyone drew comics! Comic strips are an amazing art form that has been around for thousands of years. With a simple pencil, pen, and paper the artist can tell thrilling stories, make hilarious jokes, or illustrate their own diaries. Once you learn the basic mechanics of how comics are designed and built, anyone can begin drawing them regardless of talent level or experience.

I wrote...

Art for Kids: Comic Strips, 3: Create Your Own Comic Strips from Start to Finish

By Art Roche,

Book cover of Art for Kids: Comic Strips, 3: Create Your Own Comic Strips from Start to Finish

What is my book about?

I set out to create a book that demonstrates the actual process of creating a comic strip from start to finish. I wanted the reader to be able to feel confident about everything from drawing, to writing jokes, to creating characters. I’ve gotten great feedback about this book and young artists seem to really enjoy the artwork and the sample comic strip in the book, Galaxy Dog.

My other books include: Art for Kids: Cartooning Create Your Own Comic Strips from Start to Finish and The Knights of Boo’Gar. This book is a funny chapter book that features brave knights and princesses, enchanted turtles, monsters, and one very special goat.

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