JONAH, THE WHALE by Susan Shreve


Age Range: 8 - 12
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An overweight boy transforms his fantasy of TV stardom into a formula for success in this poignant, affirming novel from Shreve (The Formerly Great Alexander Family, 1995, etc.). When his mother’s boyfriend, Thomas, walks out on their family, 11-year-old Jonah barely has time to react before they move to a more affordable apartment. Feeling empty inside, missing his “almost-father,” he overeats, and soon none of his three pairs of pants fits comfortably. But there’s no money for new pants; Jonah’s mother works two low-paying jobs to support him and his baby brother. When he is dubbed “Jonah the Whale” at his new school, rather than let the insult fester, Jonah turns the image into an unlikely symbol of empowerment: He imagines himself sitting inside a whale on the set of a new talk show exclusively for kids. While his grades and classwork suffer, Jonah methodically develops the idea for his show, selecting his first guests, choosing his questions, and even taping an imaginary interview with basketball star Michael Jordan. Some playground bragging forces Jonah to prove that he really talked to Jordan, and through the boy’s initiative--and Jordan’s kindness--Jonah succeeds. In fact, his first interviews are so impressive that he eventually winds up with his own television show, just as he dreamed. His other dream, that Jonah’s mother and boyfriend reconcile, is also realized, the one false note in an uplifting tale with an unpredictable plot and a sympathetic, likable hero. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-590-37133-9
Page count: 110pp
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998


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