Jonah’s Journey to the Deep, written by Mother Melania and illustrated by Bonnie Gillis (Conciliar Press, 2008) is the first volume in a set of Old Testament books for children. With semi-iconographic yet child friendly colorful illustrations and poetic text, the stories are engaging without compromising reverence.
The story of Jonah is told in a naturally flowing poem that will interest children with its many repetitions. The illustrations complement the adventurous tale and depict the big fish just like it looks on many icons, while the stormy sea is shown with playfully energetic swirls which make the waves just the right kind of scary for a child.
The author chooses to end the story, not with Jonah travelling to Nineveh, but with a short and easy to understand theological explanation of what the story means. Jonah’s three days in the fish and then safe arrival on dry ground are shown to foreshadow Christ’s three days in the tomb and resurrection. Jonah’s repentance, need for the Lord’s help, and his ultimate release from the fish, are related in simple and very understandable terms to our personal need for rescue from sin.
Young children will love this book. Its small size makes it convenient to carry along to church. It would be fun to extend the story with an art project for Sunday school using watercolor colored pencils to capture the feeling of the illustrations.