I bought this to read to my son, whose reading level wasn't (I thought) advanced enough for it. We'd seen this done as a play, so I felt he could connect easily with the story. I started reading, but he was so entranced and so eager to know what came next that he'd pick it up when I put it down and read it for himself. At first he had to work hard at it, but by the last chapter he was reading it quite fluently. It did exactly what I'd hoped: interest him in reading something more challenging than the Horrid Henry books, thereby improving his reading skills.
In fact we both enjoyed it so much, despite knowing the basic story beforehand, that we are setting out to get more Morpurgo books. If the others are as engaging as this one we shall have a fine old time reading to each other. Given that getting boys to read can be difficult, I was very pleased with the way in which Why the Whales Came provided a level of interest, excitement and engagement with the story and the text to bring home to my boy the sheer pleasure of reading.
The book has aroused his interest in other ways too: he's now very keen on knowing more about whales in general and narwhals in particular, and wants desperately to visit the Scilly Islands to see Byher and Samson. He's been using the atlas and the encyclopaedia to find out more, without any prompting from his parents.