Book Tour Review: Setsuko and the Song of the Sea by Fiona Barker (Author), Howard Gray (Illustrator). @Fi_BGB @TinyTreeBooks @hwigray @lovebooksgroup @lovebookstours 

I am honoured to be taking part today in the Book Tour for

Setsuko and the Song of the Sea

by Fiona Barker (Author), Howard Gray (Illustrator).


Setsuko loves the sea. She swims its shallows. She dives its depths. But she worries that her friends have chosen to abandon her way of life. Then she meets a whale who also fears he is the last of his kind. In return for giving him hope, he gifts her a song which she uses to remind people of the beauty of the ocean. Setsuko took the song and made it her own. They played together from the first crisp light of morning until the setting of the evening sun. Everyone who heard Setsuko’s song was filled with the wonder of the sea. They remembered the beauty and mystery of the ocean. A story of an unlikely friendship, Setsuko and her friend the whale have one thing in common ― their love of the sea. Much like the revered ama-san, ― women who have been diving off the coast of the Shima peninsula in Japan for over 2,000 years ― Setsuko is a strong girl who is on the path to becoming one of these real-life mermaids.

10% of the net profits from each book will be donated to the Marine Conservation Society, the UK charity working for seas full of life. Visit to find out more.


Setsuko and the Song of the Sea is an absolutely stunning book, both visually and with the messaging in the story.

We see Setsuko swimming in the sea, which is something she loves to do. But she is swimming in a sea with fewer fish and more and more pollution. The beauty of the ocean is transposed with the horrifying imagery of plastic pollution. Where there should be sea creatures there is junk and waste.

One day Setsuko comes across a huge whale who is looking for his friends, he can’t find them anywhere. This demonstrates that the other whales are moving away and possibly dying out due to the toxic environment they are living in. Setsuko can empathise with the whale and explains that the fish she used to swim with have gone and her friends no longer dive with her. Setsuko and the whale become friends and play together for a week. The whale thanks Setsuko for giving him the gift of hope, and before he sets off gives her a beautiful but incredibly sad song in return. The song itself is portrayed visually through the illustrations which is incredibly effective and moving.

Upon hearing the song people are reminded of the beauty of the ocean and ask Setsuko how they can help. They begin to clear the beach and her friends dive with her again. In turn, we see increased numbers of sea animals who are now depicted as smiling and happy.

This book has incredible interplay between the text and illustrations, they work so well together making the book both stunning and poignant. It delivers the message around pollution in a really thought-provoking way for children, to build their empathy and understanding of the topic. It shows that there is hope, that together we can make things better, we all need to be friends of the ocean and the creatures within it.

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Thank you Kelly & Meggy from Love Books Tours for inviting me to take part in the Book Tour.

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