If I Swam with Jonah
If I saw a big fish, twice the size of a ship,
and she swam by my boat in the sea,
if that fish opened wide showing Jonah inside,
I would holler, "Hey, fish, wait for me!"
What would you do if you met Jonah and the big fish? Would you make them a seaweed snack? Join them for a swim in the sea?
Maybe you'd show Jonah how to help others.
Ages 3-6; Includes a note for families with a brief explanation of the story of Jonah, struggling with doing things we should but don't want to do, and helping others.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pamela Moritz is the author of the award-winning If I Lived with Noah and The Great Passover Escape. She is also the recipient of the SCBWI PJ Library Jewish Stories Award and the PJ Library Author Incentive Award for If I Lived with Noah. When not writing or teaching, Pam can be found hiking or reading to her grandchildren. She lives in Israel.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
MacKenzie Haley has been drawing her whole life and even flunked a math test in the third grade because she used the test time to draw characters and faces out of numbers. She studied illustration at the University of Dayton. Her books include Snitchy Witch by Frank J. Sileo and A Flicker of Hope by Julia Cook. MacKenzie lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her to cats, Booger and Abby.
"If I Swam with Jonah makes a great read-aloud at bedtime, and it’s also the perfect addition to a family Yom Kippur service." - Jewish Book Council
"The story of the minor prophet Jonah, as contained in the biblical Book of Jonah, is in many ways a troubling tale with an ambiguous ending which finds Jonah having learned only modestly from his experience. It's read in synagogues often on Yom Kippur. In IF I SWAM WITH JONAH, author Moritz and illustrator Haley find a nifty way to bring the Jonah story to young children, in a rhyming text that creates a midrash.
Moritz's cleverness is to impart the tale in the first person voice of a boy who talks to his beloved pet about a fish way bigger than the goldfish, the one that swallows Jonah when he did not want to assist the people of Nineveh as God commanded. Wisely omitted is the textual reason for Jonah's reluctance -- that Nineveh was just about the most wicked place on earth. From there, the narrator joins Jonah in the belly of the beast, where Haley's art conceives of the prophet in period dress, with the interior walls of the fish decorated with sea-themed art. The tone is whimsical and fun, and so is Haley's art. Jonah, inspired by the narrator and their experience, declares himself ready for his mission, and returns to dry land with the narrator. The artist works in themes of purple for the fish, and the art is simple and accessible to young kids.
I could easily see this book being read aloud to kids during the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and kids being delighted. There's an afterword where Moritz shares her inspiration for the story. Moritz and Haley know the core text, and the Jewish religious content is text-based. This is also a book that will appeal to many Christian families looking for a support text for their Hebrew Bible explorations, or Muslim families exploring the placement of the Jonah (Yūnus) story's placement in the Koran. This overall appeal to the three Abrahamic faiths is rare and noteworthy. It is worthy of Sydney Taylor recognition." --Jeff Gottesfeld, author of The Christmas Mitzvah, for Sydney Taylor Shmooze