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JONAH'S WHALE by Eileen Spinelli


by Eileen Spinelli & illustrated by Giuliano Ferri

Pub Date: March 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5382-0
Publisher: Eerdmans

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)