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. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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This will serve well in both religious and nonreligious settings for fall curriculum support.


The annual harvest from farm to table is explored with a religious perspective, focusing on Christian harvest traditions and the Jewish celebration of Sukkot.

Crisp color photography highlights children in scenes of farming and the harvesting of fruits and vegetables. The book features several instructive points about the variety of produce available, the harvest concept and sharing. Finally, it covers two different yet corresponding religious ways to observe the harvest and thank God. Church-based harvest festivals are illustrated by the decorating of a church with various breads, wheat stalks and baskets of food. Sukkot is shown with the building and decorating of a Sukkah and how this symbol of a shelter or hut relates to the ancient Jewish celebration. An informative and eye-catching design on glossy paper offers a large, multicolored print, the majority of text blocks in black against soft pale backgrounds, with key words in bold blue; these are repeated in a vocabulary border at the bottom of each page. The text is largely framed in questions, encouraging personal response and discussion. The simplicity and functionality of the book’s premise is enhanced with an addendum of teaching suggestions for specific pages and more detailed background information about the concepts presented.

This will serve well in both religious and nonreligious settings for fall curriculum support. (websites, index) (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-237-54373-0

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Evans/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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