This story was born when Pastor Brad Riley asked, “how did that fish end up with a coin in its mouth for Peter to fish out?” By showing us the fish’s viewpoint (Timothy in this case), he gives us an example of being “faithful in that which is least” and the backstory for a “coincidence” miracle children can understand.
I don’t want to give away the whole plot, but the thing I found most refreshing was how the story wasn’t driven by the main character doing something wrong. Instead, adventure finds him when he goes out of his way to follow his grandmother’s request to care for the local environment.
As with the best kids’ books, it isn’t the author who puts the story over the top, it’s the illustrator. The one Pastor Riley got is perfect. His style is cartoony enough it didn’t bother me at all to have Peter and Jesus portrayed. The watery environments are lovely and you can’t help liking Timothy.
My kids were so enchanted, they begged for the story again the next evening, which is a first for any book I’ve tried to share with them on the computer.
I didn’t get a paper copy of the book to review, but just a download. I’m not completely sure why, but my guess is this keeps overhead low so they can send more money where they really want it to go. Namely, 25% of the proceeds from Timothy the Fish go to help an orphanage in Venezuala. You can find out more about this on Brad Riley’s Amazon author page.
OK, I’ve been careful to start with the half of me that just loved the book. Now for the other half that’s had a bit of a tough time with it.
Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. Matthew 17:27
The book messes with the verse! If you can’t stand watching Veggie Tales Bible stories or movies where Moses is raised by Pharoah’s wife instead of daughter, this book will drive you crazy. It’s not too hard to figure out why a kids’ story from the fish’s perspective didn’t want to put a hook in his mouth, though.
I ran into the book’s facebook page and was able to ask if the change was purposeful or not. I got an answer and my hunch was right, he didn’t want to traumatize the poor kids. As long as your children learn what Jesus really said from you, I don’t think the slight deviation is going to mess with them.
My other wish was to have had a hand in the editing before the book came out. You know how English teachers are always getting their feathers ruffled by bad grammar? This book has fine grammar and such, but it could have used a fair amount of word trimming and a few more explanations.
There was even one point I couldn’t suspend my disbelief. It doesn’t take more than a split second to feel terror that you’re about to die. Don’t tell me Timothy didn’t have time to feel frightened, tell me a strange peace filled him despite the danger!
In closing, when I opened the Amazon author page I was shocked to see such a young writer. The story feels like it is being told by a grandpa: warm, wise, and comforting.