If I Swam with Jonah

Pam Moritz, MacKen­zie Haley (Illus­tra­tor)

  • Review
By – March 20, 2022

If I Swam with Jon­ah reimag­ines the bib­li­cal sto­ry of Jon­ah in rhyme, with a con­tem­po­rary twist as a young boy joins Jon­ah in the stom­ach of the whale and shares in Jonah’s adventures.While in the bel­ly of the fish, the lit­tle boy soothes the tired and grumpy Jon­ah, who is in a time-out” because God told Jon­ah that Ninevah need­ed his help. He refused and instead ran away.”

First, the young­ster slaps togeth­er a kelp-and-sea­weed sand­wich, and then, with full tum­mies, Jon­ah and the boy explore the ocean. Next, they encounter a dol­phin stuck in a fisherman’s net and free him. Final­ly, when it gets dark and scary in the deep sea, the lit­tle boy pulls a flash­light out of his back­pack and calms Jon­ah telling him, Don’t be fright­ened.” Through the lit­tle boy’s exam­ple, Jon­ah real­izes that it’s good to help and to share, so he decides to go help the peo­ple of Ninevah.

Along with rhyming text and preschool humor, If I Swam with Jon­ah uses bright and cheer­ful illus­tra­tions cre­at­ed with mixed media and dig­i­tal paint­ing to engage read­ers. The images of the fishquake” and the under­wa­ter zoo” are espe­cial­ly fun to peruse. If I Swam with Jon­ah makes a great read-aloud at bed­time, and it’s also the per­fect addi­tion to a fam­i­ly Yom Kip­pur service.

Paula Chaiken has worked in a vari­ety of capac­i­ties in the Jew­ish world — teach­ing in reli­gious school, curat­ing at the Sper­tus Muse­um and fundrais­ing for the Fed­er­a­tion — for more than twen­ty years. She also runs a bou­tique pub­lic rela­tions con­sult­ing firm and enjoys read­ing all sorts of books with her three sons.

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