A spiritually satisfying whale of a tale.

The familiar biblical story is told from the perspective of the swallowing whale.

God sends a newly created sperm whale a family to ease his loneliness and plenty of fish to assuage his hunger. Whale plays and sings and glides through the sea. There are fishermen about, so humankind has also appeared. One stormy night Whale hears Jonah taking the blame for the storm and begging to be thrown overboard. When he is tossed to the sea, God directs Whale to save him. Not knowing how to accomplish this, he opens his mouth, slurps and swallows Jonah. But, “Now what?” wonders Whale. Whale is reasonably patient, but he begins to feel abandoned and queasy, sympathizing with Jonah, who must be feeling the same way. So he sings to the man, hears God’s response in the music and spits Jonah safely onto land. Employing lovely, descriptive language with contemporary syntax in brief, pointed sentences, Spinelli makes the Bible story accessible for young readers by turning the tale around and focusing not on the human, but on the faithful whale. Whale is grateful, obedient and caring of God’s other creatures, and he shines with goodness. Ferri’s watercolor-and-pencil illustrations glow in blues, greens and yellows that deepen to grays and purples during the storm.

A spiritually satisfying whale of a tale. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5382-0

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012


Girls will hear the answer to the titular question.

Teaching our daughters how to love themselves is the first step toward the next generation’s owning its power.

It’s heady stuff for a picture book, but it’s never too soon for a woman—even a little woman—to know her worth. Denhollander (the first of sex offender Larry Nassar’s abuse victims to speak out) presents a poetic discourse that resonates beyond its young intended audience. Her simple rhyming couplets speak to the power of image and the messages that shape how we become who we are. The eloquence comes not from the words or phrasing as much as the message as well as the passion. Denhollander, an attorney, a mother, and a former gymnast–turned-coach for a time, delivers stanzas infused with sweet sentimentality as well as fiery fierceness. New artist Huff provides lovely, expressive illustrations depicting girls of many racial presentations in various stages of self-discovery and acceptance. The figures are smiling and cartoonlike, with oversized, round heads and sturdy bodies—though none could be called fat, none exhibits twiglike proportions. Denhollander’s book is unapologetically Christian in approach, with more than one reference to “Him” or a creation by a greater power. With sincerity helping to mitigate occasionally artless text, this is a worthwhile message for young girls who, in an age of shrinking women’s rights, need all the encouragement possible to find their voices and love themselves.

Girls will hear the answer to the titular question. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4964-4168-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tyndale House

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019


Though the rhyme tumbles and at times bumbles, enticing imagery will lure readers in.

Rhyming text and colorful multicultural illustrations reassure young readers of God’s omnipresence and still small voice.

“Where in the world is God’s voice found?” Perhaps in ocean waves, bird song, or mountain vistas, suggest the couplet rhymes. Even when readers might be faced with difficult emotions and distractions of all kinds, the text reassures them that God is still there and still speaking, if only one pauses to listen. His voice can be found in nature, in starlight, in the love of family and friends, in dreams, and “through His Word.” Admirably, the bright illustrations, reminiscent of mid-20th-century Disney artist Mary Blair’s stylings, depict children and families with a diverse array of skin tones and ages. There is also a refreshing mix of urban, suburban, and rural settings. Yet, despite the appealing illustrations, the rhymes and scansion are often forced (“your feelings, they matter, / even if they’re all mixed up like / pancake batter”), which detracts from the overall message. Contrived couplets notwithstanding, this title will likely find an audience among Christian households seeking reassuring bedtime reads.

Though the rhyme tumbles and at times bumbles, enticing imagery will lure readers in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-65385-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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