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.