Like the Sea and the Sky: A Mys­te­ri­ous Mol­lusk and Its Mag­i­cal Blue Ink

  • Review
By – March 4, 2024

Zin­ni’s moth­er is a rab­bi, and Zin­ni loves to hear her sing the morn­ing bless­ings every day. The bless­ings make Zin­ni think about the ocean and its spec­tac­u­lar mys­ter­ies. Her favorite sea crea­ture is the beau­ti­ful shelled mol­lusk, which releas­es a cloud of blue ink to scare off its preda­tors. Zin­ni finds school dif­fi­cult due to learn­ing and social chal­lenges, but she finds com­fort in sketch­ing sea crea­tures, espe­cial­ly the mollusk.

Zin­ni’s moth­er explains that, in ancient times, a spe­cial blue col­or used for dye­ing the tal­lit was pro­duced by mol­lusk ink. At night, Zin­ni dreams that she is in the Mediter­ranean Sea, look­ing for mol­lusks while see­ing extra­or­di­nary sights. The col­or of the mol­lusk ink, Zin­ni learns, is rem­i­nis­cent of the sea and the sky, expand­ing her imag­i­na­tion even fur­ther. In her dream, she dis­cov­ers an ancient mol­lusk and its spec­tac­u­lar blue ink. When she wakes up, she real­izes that search­ing, won­der­ing, explor­ing, and learn­ing are the keys to hap­pi­ness and suc­cess. Zin­ni con­nects these lessons to the morn­ing bless­ings and feels ready to search, explore, and improve each day.

An append­ed author’s note teach­es read­ers about techelet, the blue dye used long ago to enhance the tal­lit worn by Jews dur­ing times of prayer. The col­or­ful art appeals to the eye and is filled with rich, deep blues that echo the sto­ry’s theme.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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