“Come gather ‘round the fire and listen to Lorenz Graham’s stories
the Bible!  You may have heard them before, but he has made
them new, a rediscovery of the tales.  Lorenz Graham admired the
way in which the West Africans’ speech transformed the English
language.  As a teacher in a mission school in Monrovia, Liberia,
he responded to the cadence and original grammar of their spoken
English.  This inspired him to write these Bible stories in the West
African voice."
- Ashley Bryan

Lorenz Graham’s beautiful collection of Bible stories told in the idiom of West Africa, How God Fix Jonah, is available once again in an expanded edition illustrated by award-winning artist Ashley Bryan. The original book, published in 1946, contained 21 stories. The new edition includes two stories never before published.  

Lorenz Graham retells the stories of Jonah, Daniel, and Ruth in the lyrical West-African vernacular that highlights the simplicity and humanity of these Bible tales. The descriptive titles, such as “God Wash the World and Start Again” (Noah) and “Wise Sword Find True Mommy” (Solomon) will give readers fresh insights into these timeless narratives. These wonderful read-aloud story-poems capture the essence of the oral traditions of African storytellers.

The oral tradition resonates through these stories, as in the following excerpt from the story of Jonah:

Jonah was a prophet.
God put Him hand on Jonah
But Jonah head be hard.
Jonah head be hard too much.
Lord God Almighty can fix the thing.
Hear how He fix Jonah.

The Horn Book, in its 2001 review of How God Fix Jonah wrote, "The most unusual and captivating book returning this season is How God Fix Jonah by Lorenz Graham."

    The Family review notes:

The words have the rhythm of drums and they are best enjoyed when read out loud. Bryan captures the heart of the story in his dramatic black and white illustrations. This book is destined to become the book handed down from generation to generation.

    The Foreword of the new edition is by Effie Lee Morris, former Coordinator of Children’s Services in the San Francisco Public Library.  Of the book, she writes:

How God Fix Jonah is an important historical representation of the language and culture of Africa and has a place with other interpretations of the Bible.  How delighted I am that this important book, with its original preface by Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois and art by Ashley Bryan, is being reissued for the pleasure of current and future generations.  






How God Fix Jonah