A boy’s relationship with a fish results in the town’s wealth and prosperity at the expense of their generous benefactor.
Heeding the words of his father always to be good to others, Reuven shares his daily bread with a talking golden fish, Nissim, who befriends him at the shore and invites him to play in the water. They roughhouse a bit, and one of Nissim’s scales falls off. But the fish insists Reuven “Take it. My scales grow back.” In the village, the townsfolk see the scale is real gold and envision a richer life. Eager to help the villagers but reluctant to impose, Reuven asks Nissim to give more scales to those in need. The fish willingly complies, but with most of its scales gone, soon it becomes dangerously weak. Alarmed, Reuven puts an end to his friend’s self-destructive generosity and scolds the villagers for their greed. Remorseful, the villagers, led by the rabbi, bring food and love and help Nissim back to robust health. Inspired by two Jewish folktales, one classic and one Hasidic, Jules has crafted a clear metaphor for environmental destruction and the need for healing. Tyrrell’s lovely, vivid, detailed paintings depict an Old World Hasidic seaside town. Human figures are pale-skinned and are arranged rather stiffly within intricately bordered frames.
A well-told story with enough pathos to deliver its underlying message of environmental stewardship. (Picture book. 5-8)