Green Bean Books

Nuri and the Whale

Written by Ronit Chacham
Illustrated by Moran Yogev

Price: £9.99
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781784388065

Subject: Touching story about a boy who casts bread into the water

Highlights

  • First time English translation from an award-winning Israeli author

  • A beautiful, touching, and heart-felt story that teaches the value of kindness

  • Magical and colourful illustrations throughout bring the characters to life

Description

“They say he met the King of the Sea, who taught him something important.”

“And it all happened because he fed a fish!”

“And it all happened because he shared what little he had.”

Every day young Nuri makes his way to the sea shore to eat some bread and throw a piece into the waves. He does so because his father always told him to “cast your bread on the water”. Even though Nuri can’t remember the second part of that beloved saying he grew up hearing, he follows his father’s advice and generously feeds the small fish in the sea.

Until one day, Nuri slips and falls into the water where he meets the fish he had been feeding. As Nuri marvels at the treasures hidden beneath the waves, the fish takes him all the way to the bottom of the sea. There, Nuri meets Whisewhale, the King of the Sea.

Wisewhale teaches him something very important about the saying his father passed on to him all those years ago. This will change Nuri’s life forever, he just doesn’t know it yet.

Told in utterly beautiful prose, this heartfelt story is inspired by the Hebrew Bible verse,

“Cast your bread on the water, and one day it will come back to you.” – Kohelet

(Ecclesiastes) 11:1. Through moving and uplifting encounters, Nuri teaches readers the value of kindness and the importance of being generous even when you don’t have much yourself.

This is a simple message that has a big impact as we see Nuri grow to become surrounded by the love that blossomed as a result of his generosity. Accompanied by majestic and colourful illustrations that bring the characters to life, young readers will be captivated by the illustrator’s unique style.

The perfect bedtime story for 4 to 8 year olds.

Author Details

Ronit Chacham lives in Jerusalem. She has published books for children (some of which won awards and have been translated), short stories and plays; she has created works for theater, performance arts pieces, street theater and puppet theater in Jerusalem and in London. Her theatre pieces have been performed in various theater festivals and have won awards. She has instructed children and teachers in drama and puppetry; coordinated community arts events; developed educational programs; written and researched for television productions; edited books and magazines. Currently she teaches creative writing and lectures about children’s literature and appears in schools as part of the “meet an author” programme. https://www.ronitchacham.com

Illustrator Details

Moran Yogev is an Israeli illustrator and graphic designer. She graduated with distinction from the Minshar School of Art in Tel Aviv. She lives in Kibbutz Hagoshrim in northern Israel with her husband Nis, children Adam and Omer, and their dog, Menny. Moran illustrates books and magazines for both children and adults where she specialises in print techniques, such as linocut and foam stamps. The books she has illustrated include

Yerus Goes to Jerusalem and Miriam, You Tell Me. Moran also illustrates for the children’s magazine Einayim and the magazine Liberal. She has participated in many exhibitions, including the Tel Aviv Illustration Festival and the Outline Jerusalem Festival.

Reviews

Nuri and the Whale, translated by Mekella Broomberg, explores the concept of sharing what you have, however little, through an enchanting allegory with exquisite aquatic and sandy-toned illustrations by Moran Yogev’ — Angela Kiverstein, The Jewish Chronicle

‘Written by Ronit Chacham, translated by Mekella Broomberg and illustrated by Oran Yogev, it tells the story of, well, Nuri and the Whale. Nuri follows his father’s advice, taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet): “Cast your bread on the water, and one day it will come back to you” (11:1). He feeds a little fish every day, and soon the fish grows big. The fish takes him to see the Wisewhale — the King of the Sea. Wisewhale gives Nuri the ability to understand the language of animals and gives him some parting words,”Know that there will be days to come when you will give and take — and you will be both happy and sad.” Some interesting things happen to Nuri, and he passes his sage advice to his grandchildren: “Those who open their hearts will be rewarded in the end. What will the reward be? Sometimes treasure, sometimes a smile, and sometimes a joyful heart.” What a great message to start the year. The gorgeous illustrations bring the story to life’. — Life is Like a Library blog
 

Nuri and the Whale, translated by Mekella Broomberg, explores the concept of sharing what you have, however little, through an enchanting allegory with exquisite aquatic and sandy-toned illustrations by Moran Yogev’ — Angela Kiverstein, The Jewish Chronicle

‘There are many children’s pic­ture books that embed a Jew­ish teach­ing in an illus­trat­ed text, offer­ing both a moral les­son and an appeal­ing work of art. Nuri and the Whale takes a slight­ly dif­fer­ent approach. Ronit Chacham extrap­o­lates on a short selec­tion from the bib­li­cal book of Kohelet (Eccle­si­astes), divid­ing the nar­ra­tive into num­bered chap­ters and implic­it­ly chal­leng­ing the divide between pic­ture and chap­ter books. Moran Yogev’s lav­ish illus­tra­tions allude to Mid­dle East­ern artis­tic tra­di­tions and present con­vinc­ing char­ac­ters who speak to young read­ers on their own lev­el. This excep­tion­al book does not sim­pli­fy its mes­sage of gen­eros­i­ty and inter­gen­er­a­tional respect, but rather brings it to life as a core tzedakah.

Is the com­ple­tion of a mitz­vah con­tin­gent on ful­ly under­stand­ing its mean­ing? While this ques­tion may con­found even adults, it is almost bound to come up when teach­ing young chil­dren. Chacham con­fronts the issue as Nuri, a young boy, responds to hear­ing his father quote the verse, ​“Cast your bread on the water, and one day it will come back to you” (Kohelet 11:1). Nat­u­ral­ly, he inter­prets its some­what enig­mat­ic lan­guage lit­er­al­ly, throw­ing bread into the sea until one fish grows unnat­u­ral­ly large. When his well-inten­tioned act results in con­flict, he is con­fused. For­tu­nate­ly, Wise­whale, an arche­typ­al pater­nal fig­ure, takes the time to explain to Nuri the dif­fer­ence between obe­di­ence to his father and true com­pre­hen­sion. He does this not through direct instruc­tion, but by encour­ag­ing Nuri to draw infer­ences. Wise­whale thus sets the boy on the right path, remind­ing him that ​“there will be days to come when you will give and take — and you will be both hap­py and sad.”

Nuri and the Whale notably com­bines bib­li­cal and Tal­mu­dic sto­ries with Jew­ish folk­lore. Chil­dren may not imme­di­ate­ly asso­ciate Nuri’s tale with that of Jon­ah, caught in the bel­ly of the great fish, or with the leg­endary Joseph, who loved the Sab­bath and shared his wealth with his whole com­mu­ni­ty. Nev­er­the­less, these par­al­lels sit­u­ate Chacham’s and Yogev’s work in the larg­er realm of Jew­ish literature.

The book’s illus­tra­tions and design also dis­play a deep immer­sion in Jew­ish artis­tic her­itage. One two-page spread fea­tures the quote from Kohelet in Hebrew cal­lig­ra­phy, while the flo­ral bor­der around each pic­ture recalls medieval man­u­scripts. Word bub­bles with var­i­ous­ly col­ored fonts elab­o­rate on the main text, and a range of col­or tones con­nects char­ac­ters and scenery — from peo­ple, to ani­mals, to the nat­ur­al habi­tat they share.

When the book con­cludes, Nuri is an old man. Along the way, read­ers learn that peo­ple devel­op and change, and that both the young and old play dis­tinct roles in Jew­ish life. Giv­ing to oth­ers is not only a require­ment for those with great wealth, as Nuri points out, because ​“Some­times in life you’ll have every­thing and some­times you’ll have almost noth­ing.” It’s a mes­sage worth con­vey­ing to chil­dren, espe­cial­ly in a book as enchant­i­ng as this one.’  Emily Schneider, Jewish Book Council

‘This captivating picture book brings a Biblical passage to life through an uplifting and heartfelt story. Every day, a young man named Nuri throws breadcrumbs into the sea because he remembers his father having told him to “cast your bread onto the water.” When Nuri accidentally falls into the ocean one day, his generosity is repaid by a fish that, having grown huge on Nuri’s bread, scoops him up, treats him to a glorious tour of the ocean, and delivers him to the lavish castle of the King of the Sea, otherwise known as Wisewhale.

Wisewhale gives Nuri two gifts of comprehension: the ability to understand all animals’ languages, and a fuller appreciation of the Ecclesiastical saying, “Cast your bread upon the water, and one day it will come back to you.” When he returns to land, Nuri devotes himself to the idea of giving to others. As a result, he is rewarded with a joyous, love-filled life. 
 
Nuri and the Whale is Jewish-positive through and through: the inspiration (Biblical adage), theme (tzedakah, kindness, respect), plot (a young Jewish person growing to comprehend and embody generosity), and illustrations (including the Hebrew lettering for the Biblical verse). This book is a strong contender for the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

This story will transport children to a sparkling and magical world, while also demonstrating the importance of generosity and kindness. Along the way, children will learn the difference between obedience (“Dad told me to throw bread”) and true understanding (“helping others is a mitzvah, whether you have a little or a lot”). The lush, majestic illustrations amplify and complement the evocative prose – you could literally dive into the pictures. Nuri and the Whale is highly recommended for homes, libraries and classrooms.
 
 – Shirley Reva Vernick, The Sydney Taylor Schmooze

‘Originally published in Hebrew, Ronit Chachman, an Israeli
author, has written a very creative story based on a short
Biblical text. Nuri is a young man who visits the sea every day,
eats some bread, then throws a piece into the water. His father has told him “cast your bread on the water,” but Nuri does not remember the rest of the sentence. With every passing day, one small fish grows bigger and bigger from Nuri’s bread. One day, Nuri falls into the water and is swallowed by the oversized fish and taken to the ocean floor.
Here, he is greeted by the King of the Sea, Wisewhale, who explains to Nuri the importance of the phrase told to him by his father: it is a lesson in generosity and giving to others.
Divided into four chapters and an epilogue, the text is beautifully typeset amongst colorful illustrations by award-winning Israeli illustrator Moran Yogev, who also illustrated The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda, a Sydney Taylor Honor Book. Yogev’s brilliant tones of blue, orange, green, yellow, and brown not only demonstrate her excellent artistic abilities, but successfully complement the story.
Each page is bordered with floral designs matching the eye catching color palette of the book. A main feature found within the book is the beautifully scripted quote, written in Hebrew, from Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 11:1: “Cast your bread on the water and one day it will come back to you.”
Though only 32 pages, Ronit Chachman has written a remarkable and unique tale.’ – Association of Jewish Libraries