Cover image for How whales walked into the sea
How whales walked into the sea
McNulty, Faith.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
Explains how the earth's biggest mammal evolved from a land animal into a sea animal.
Reading Level:
730 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.2 0.5 32670.

Reading Counts RC K-2 4.8 2 Quiz: 18730 Guided reading level: O.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library QL737.C4 M37 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
Clearfield Library QL737.C4 M37 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Hamburg Library QL737.C4 M37 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Lake Shore Library QL737.C4 M37 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Lancaster Library QL737.C4 M37 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Orchard Park Library QL737.C4 M37 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Audubon Library QL737.C4 M37 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The ancestors of the modern whale lived on land. Brimming with brilliant watercolor artwork, this book explores the fascinating evolution of the earth's biggest animals.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2^-4 . Children are often fascinated to learn that ocean-dwelling whales are really mammals that give birth to live young and breathe air. McNulty recounts how mesonychids, wolflike carnivores that had more success finding food in water than on land, gradually evolved into today's giant cetaceans. She describes a few intermediary species that existed along this evolutionary path and surveys several kinds of modern whales. Rand's mixed media artwork will help young readers visualize these ancient creatures and their environment; the use of a light blue border along the bottom and sides of each spread keeps readers apprised of sea levels during various eras. Appended with some basic facts about living whale species, this will be welcomed by browsers and report writers alike. --Kay Weisman

Publisher's Weekly Review

The team behind the intimate view of A Snake in the House takes a more objective, long-range look at whales in this clear account of the mammals' complex evolution. Beginning 50 million years ago, when the antecedent "whales" were furry, four-legged land animals wading shallow waters to forage for fish, McNulty touches on evolutionary milestones leading up to the exclusively water creatures we know as whales today. The feet of land-roaming mesonychids become broader, paddlelike; ambulocetus, the "Walking Whale," comes ashore only to rest and give birth; rodhocetus, the "Hardly Walking Whale," takes on a tapered silhouette with a fin-like tail. Despite a few anomalies (e.g., How did the nostrils become a blowhole on top of the head?), McNulty effectively demonstrates that modern whales carry recognizable remnants of their ancestors ("Inside whales' flippers are arm, wrist, and finger bones"). Although unambiguous and forthright, the text is dense and perhaps best approached with a clear understanding of evolutionary principles (a time line, for instance, would have been helpful). McNulty's straightforward prose concludes in searching questions: "We know [whales] think and have feelings.... Does the whale still have some of the feelings of a land animal...? Does the whale still love the sun?" Rand's arresting and expansive watercolors offer additional, subtle physical changes not mentioned in the text, and his dramatic portraits of orca and sperm whales, especially, will please any fan of these giant mammals. Ages 7-10. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-5‘The ancestors of modern whales were definitely land dwellers, with four sturdy legs, a tail, furry coats, and a set of powerful jaws. Through a long process of evolution, their forelegs became flippers, their tails grew muscular flukes, and their hind legs disappeared from view to become vestigial skeletal remnants. Their nostrils moved to the tops of their heads, and their jaws grew different teeth or transformed them into sheets of filtering baleen. But their blood is still warm, they still nurse their young, and those vestigial hind limbs testify to their four-legged forebears. McNulty recounts this aeons-long conversion in a simply worded, informative text, including data on modern cetaceans and their lifestyles as well, and an added page of further details on six whale species. All of this is flawed by a misstatement on the duration of whale dives: some do make shallow, short-term dives, but sperm whales regularly make deep dives lasting an hour or more. Rand's exuberant paintings rendered in acrylics, watercolors, and chalks are a perfect foil for the readable text, presenting accurate images for readers uncertain of the physical appearance of such unwhalelike beginnings as mesonychids and ambulocetus, and who are appreciative of the awe a pair of gigantic flukes can generate.‘Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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