The people of ancient Jerusalem walk a long way to get their water from a spring. It’s a hard job, and Shimri wants to help out, but he’s too small. One day, the king decides to build a tunnel to make the water more accessible. Shimri heeds his grandmother’s advice -- to watch, listen and learn -- and before the king can consult his wise men, the young boy finds a solution to the problem.
This book is a wonderful combination of old and new. Its design, with white space and earthy tones, evokes ancient Jerusalem, but its varied visual perspectives and angles are modern. The sibling relationship is relatable to kids today: Shimri’s older sister gets impatient with him, just like in contemporary families. The scientific and engineering aspects of the story will pique the curiosity of our seven- and eight-year-olds, who will want to see the real tunnel. Shimri is a fictional character and we don’t know how the tunnel was really built, but Hezekiah’s Tunnel was built in the eighth century BCE, is mentioned in the Bible, and visitors can walk through it today.
And last but not least, we particularly love the story’s empowering message that children can be creative and solve problems; even a king can learn from a resourceful child. As Shimri says, “Big ideas can come from small mouths!”
April 25, 2019