It’s been a while since I did my last Lazy book review, but after reading “The whale who wanted more”, I knew I had to share it with you, even though it’s a children’s book. Don’t worry, we’ll be back to adult books and numbers shortly.
The whale who wanted more
I found this book by pure chance in the library, while looking for books to read to my son. Every time I go to the library with my kids, I try to pick a few books that they know and love along with some new books for us to try.
I’m very happy we did that because “The whale who wanted more” is a gem!
I came home with the book, all excited, I’m sure Lazy FI Mum found it very weird. I can at least hope, that she understands it now.
“The whale who wanted more” is a story about Humphrey, a whale, and his quest. Humphrey keeps collecting material possessions in the hope of feeling whole and happy (did someone say “hedonic treadmill”?*). As you can guess, just like in real life, it doesn’t work. Instead, he keeps collecting more and more possessions without becoming any happier.
At the same time, there’s a beautiful reef full of fish and other sea creatures, who are busy fighting with each other about various things.
One day, Humphrey comes across the beautiful reef. Initially, he sees it as a source of more things to collect. The reef residents are too busy fighting, so they don’t notice the huge whale heading their way.
Luckily, Crystal the crab saves the day by talking some sense into Humprhey, who realises that happiness comes from fulfilment and companionship, or as Crystal put it:
“You know,” replied Crystal, “I think you might find
that happiness comes when you’re caring and kind.
perhaps…” she suggested, with one pincer uncurled,
“You might have a gift you could give to the world?”
Humphrey remembers he’s actually a great singer. He sings for all the creatures in the reef. Everyone’s happy and he decides to stop collecting things. Instead, he decides to stay with his new friends as he finally feels happy and whole.
When reading books to my young kids, I look for a few things:
- For the book to rhyme, it makes it easier for me to read it and more fun for my kids to listen to.
- I like the “rhythm” of the book to be easy. The reading should “flow”. A great example of this is the book “Sugarlump and the unicorn”, which I’ve read so many times, I now know it by heart.
- Ideally, I don’t want the book to be too short, I want my kids to be able to focus on a book for at least a couple of minutes**.
- Finally, I want the book to have a nice message. I want the moral of the story to be something that will add value to my kids’ lives.
Well, “The whale who wanted more” smashes it in all four categories.
It rhymes and flows beautifully, despite it being quite long compared to other books I read to my kids. The message is an important one too- collecting material possessions only gives you temporary happiness, but true happiness comes from family, friends, and a sense of fulfilment.
I also like that it’s not just Humphrey the whale who learned a lesson, but also all the other creatures on the reef.
The illustrations are beautiful too. The book is very colourful and my kids love it.
My Favourite part
There are quite a few, I’ll share the two that resonated with me the most, as someone pursuing FI (Financial Independence):
- He thought very hard, for the first time in years,
As he gathered his voice, so he fought back some tears.
“I…don’t know,” whispered Humprey. “I think that my goal
was to feel all filled-up and, well, happy and … whole”
Talk about a noble goal, well done Humphrey! Once we know our goal or our “why” our journey becomes easier (or at least more bearable) and we get more motivated.
- Yes, that whale stopped collecting
and made a great start
at doing the things that
filled up his heart
So perhaps true contentment,
is not about stuff
since we all need so little
to have quite enough
A beautiful message, which I’m happy to teach my kids (and even a hint of frugality in there).
This is probably the longest children’s book my kids have ever agreed to listen to, which is fantastic. It takes me a good few minutes to go through it once. Sometimes, I’ll read it to my (less than 1-year-old) son twice in a row. He’s always calm when I read it to him, thanks to the beautiful illustrations and the fantastic rhythm.
He also turns the page for me each time, which is adorable.
Lazy FI rating for “The whale who wanted more”
I give this book a 9.5/10. We borrowed it from the library a couple of weeks ago and I lost count of how many times I’ve read it. I enjoyed it so much that I had to write about it, despite it being a children’s book.
under 5 – don’t bother.
5 to 7 – I didn’t really enjoy it but maybe others will.
7 to 8 – I liked it.
8 to 9 – I seriously enjoyed it and probably recommended it to friends.
9 to 10 – One of the best books I’ve ever read.
10 – “The simple path to wealth” by JL Collins
Where to find “The whale who wanted more”
As you know, my first recommendation is always “head to your local library”. If you prefer buying it (which we probably will soon), here’s a link to get it from Amazon. I get nothing if you buy it.
What’s all of this got to do with FI?
A lot of people who reach FI say the same thing. They all say that reaching FI didn’t automatically make them happy, their problems didn’t magically fade away.
More money (and material possessions) is rarely what makes you happy in the long term. Happiness comes from fulfilment (this can be paid work) and spending time doing things that are important to you with people you love. FI allows you to do that.
My whole goal in this FI journey that I’m on is to free my time to focus on feeling fulfilment and spending time with family.
As you may know, I feel fulfilment when I help people (usually by teaching, my version of Humphrey’s singing). I enjoy teaching and I love the interaction with the students. That’s why I plan to keep teaching after I reach FI (or maybe make it part of my retirement plan).
The other part, for me, is to spend time with my family.
Time with family
There’s a brilliant post by “Wait but why” titled “The tail end”. It’s one of my all-time favourite texts. It shows that by the time your kids turn 18, you’ve already spent the vast majority of the time you’ll ever spend with them (the same holds for you and your parents, of course). It really highlighted the importance of spending time with your kids.
Do yourself a favour, if you haven’t already, read the post here (it’s not long):
And, while you’re at it, read your kids “The whale who wanted more”.
As I usually do with FI content creators, singers and writers- If I like one thing they did, I might like other things they did. Next time we’re in the library, I’m going to check if they have other books by Rachel Bright, if you want to do the same, here’s a list:
Have a great weekend everyone, sign up to your local library and happy new year!
* I really need to write a future post about the hedonic treadmill.
** They’re very young. Our daughter is not even 3 and our son isn’t even one year old. When they grow up, the bar will be raised to more than a couple of minutes.