An interview about The Floating Zoo: A Humorous Story about Noah’s Ark, presented in partnership* with Shiloh Moyo and The Children’s Book Review.
The Floating Zoo is a delightful and colorful children’s book that brings to life the wonders of the animal kingdom. Shiloh Moyo, whose creative prowess shines through every page, introduces us to a menagerie of charming characters, each with its own unique personality and endearing qualities.
In this interview, we delve into the creative mind behind the book, exploring the inspiration and surprises that led to its creation. Moyo shares insights into her favorite scenes, highlighting moments where giraffes pen letters of complaint and doves return to the ark with olive leaves, capturing the imagination with vivid imagery and playful storytelling.
What sets The Floating Zoo apart is not only the captivating narrative but also the immersive audio experience attached to the book. Moyo, with a surprising talent for voiceovers, has lent her voice to bring the characters to life in a way that enhances the adventure for readers, young and old alike.
Readers are sure to be left with a “delightful” first impression, as described by Moyo, and will find joy in the adorable and colorful world crafted within the pages by illustrator Tori Kate. Beyond the whimsical narrative, the interview explores the deeper values embedded in the story, emphasizing the fun and wisdom that children’s Bible stories can offer both young and adult readers.
The Floating Zoo is a delightful retelling of the iconic Bible story Noah’s Ark. What was the specific moment of inspiration that led you to want to retell this story in picture book format?
Shiloh Moyo: Honestly, I was caught completely by surprise! The Genesis of The Floating Zoo, a delightful retelling of Noah’s Ark, sprang from a moment of empathetic reflection during the tumultuous days of the 2020 pandemic. As I pondered poor Noah’s circumstance, trapped alongside an array of mischievous animals within the ark, God dropped the idea of inspiration!
One morning, after writing a paragraph empathizing with Noah’s predicament, an outpouring of creativity ensued. Nearly three-quarters of the story flowed effortlessly, and it surprised me because I had never written anything in rhyme. To make sure the rhyme sounded seamless, I recorded an audio rendition of the narrative to go with it.
However, the pivotal moment occurred during an attempt to delete the story from my phone. In the middle of trying to delete it, someone I know called, and our conversation, for some reason, drifted to children’s books. I mentioned the story I’d crafted, half-jokingly pondering about God intervening through their call before I deleted the story. Normally, they would ignore my creative outbursts, but they insisted on me sending them the story immediately.
After sharing the audio, I didn’t realize they played it in a room full of their family members, who apparently stopped to ask, “Who on earth is that?” It resonated deeply with their family, captivating their attention entirely. They called me back immediately and asked when the book could be written and finished and when I could turn it into a full-blown children’s book.
I was surprised by the joy the book brought, the curiosity it sparked, the genuine connection it fostered, and how it became The Floating Zoo.
It took almost a year to find the right Illustrator, and when I finally found Tori, she had just gotten married and was not looking to Illustrate, I could not find anyone else I wanted to work with and kept asking Tori until she finally gave in, but at the time she was now pregnant, and I had to wait until after her first child was born, a wedding, 2 kids and 3 years later we are here on The Floating Zoo.
In your retelling, Noah and his family have to navigate some hilarious chaos of building an ark and gathering two animals of every kind. While certain elements have been reimagined where the focus is on Noah’s emotions and the behavior of the animals, you don’t aim to replace the original sacred Biblical text. What else should readers know about The Floating Zoo if they haven’t already read it?
My heart is for Children all over the World to Fall in Love with God’s Word. I want them to know there is a place and answers for their prayers, their emotions, and the little things that bother them in the Word of God. And that God loves them very much. God sees the big things, but He also cares for the little things too, even if they are little termites!
I also want children to marvel at how Creative and Powerful God is that He created everything in the Universe, including them. The book is also an opportunity for children to explore their emotions and learn how to navigate their emotions in situations that can test them.
With unwavering faith and unyielding determination, Noah and his family face every challenge that comes their way head-on. Tell us about their character traits and why you think they make great themes for a children’s book.
Just picture dealing with a boatload of quirky animals, each with its own mischievous streak. Noah and his family were the real heroes, tackling every challenge with unwavering faith and steadfast determination.
The Noah character created by my Illustrator Tori is adorable, and so is Noah’s wife, with her curlers in her hair. Noah went through phases in the process of creating himself. A huge thing for me was to make sure children from different cultures could see Noah without seeing a specific ethnicity but rather focusing on his personality and the supernatural experience he had when God asked him to build the Ark.
Then speaking of the animals – oh, the shenanigans they got up to! From cheeky monkeys swinging from the rafters to clumsy elephants causing a ruckus, these creatures added a playful touch to the story. Their naughty yet endearing antics resonate so well with children. After all, who doesn’t love a bit of mischief and fun?
Children, much like Noah, face their own set of challenges every day. They could easily relate to his determination and resilience in navigating through unexpected situations. Plus, the playful animals brought a relatable element, reminding kids that it was okay to be in situations we don’t often understand.
By weaving these character traits—Noah’s determination, faith, and the playful antics of the animals—into a children’s book, I aimed to offer young readers an engaging story that not only entertained but also instilled valuable lessons. It’s a story that celebrates resilience, teamwork, and the importance of staying optimistic in the face of challenges.
Are there any additional themes in the story that you’d like to touch on?
The story of Noah’s Ark is rich with valuable themes that resonate with children. Here are some key themes that can be derived from this timeless tale:
Resilience and Perseverance: Noah and his family demonstrated unwavering resilience in the face of adversity. Despite the challenges and uncertainties, they persisted in carrying out their mission. This theme teaches children the importance of resilience in overcoming obstacles and staying strong during difficult times.
Faith and Trust: Noah’s unwavering faith in fulfilling his divine task serves as a powerful lesson. It highlights the significance of having faith and trust. It encourages children to trust God.
Caring for Others: Noah’s responsibility towards the animals aboard the ark showcases the importance of compassion and caring for others, even those different from ourselves. It instills empathy in children, teaching them the value of kindness and looking out for the well-being of all creatures.
Teamwork and Cooperation: The story emphasizes how Noah worked together with his family to build the ark and care for the animals. This highlights the significance of teamwork and cooperation. Children learn the importance of collaborating with others, sharing responsibilities, and working towards a common goal.
Nature and Conservation: The preservation of animals and nature in the story emphasizes the importance of taking care of our environment. It encourages children to appreciate and respect nature, fostering a sense of responsibility towards the planet.
Facing Consequences: The story touches upon the concept of consequences, showcasing the importance of making responsible choices. It can teach children about the impact of their actions and the importance of making wise decisions.
As your rollicking story is told through rhyme and captivating illustrations, what made you choose to write The Floating Zoo in rhyme?
Children love Rhyme!
Choosing to write The Floating Zoo in rhyme was an intuitive decision for me that stemmed from my desire to create an immersive and captivating experience for young readers. I am also a musician, so the musical ear and lyrics come naturally. I was raised in a family of musicians and by a father who is a musician, so my thought process tends to be very creative.
Rhyme also offers a wonderful rhythmic quality that instantly draws children into the story. It’s like music to their ears, adding an engaging cadence that keeps them drawn from the first word to the last. I wanted to create a story that not only entertained but also had a memorable flow, making it easier for kids to remember and enjoy the story.
The playful nature of rhyme brings an element of surprise and fun to storytelling. It allowed me to play with words, incorporate clever wordplay, and create an adventurous narrative that tickles the imagination. What’s more, it invites children to join in, predicting the next rhyme or finishing sentences, transforming reading into an interactive and joyful experience.
For The Floating Zoo, rhyme was the perfect vehicle to capture the lively escapades of Noah and his mischievous animal companions. It gave the story a sense of excitement and charm throughout the story. Pairing rhythmic text with captivating illustrations was like orchestrating a symphony, where the words danced harmoniously around the illustrations, inviting children to step aboard the ark and journey through a world filled with rhythm, laughter, and the pure joy of storytelling.
The artwork showcases the characters’ vibrant emotions and the animals’ playful nature. Will you tell us about the illustrations and the illustrator? Do you have a favorite piece of artwork in this book? A favorite animal, perhaps?
The illustrations in The Floating Zoo are adorable, thanks to the incredible talent of Tori Kate Heavenor! Her artwork brilliantly captures the emotions of the characters and the playfulness of the animals.
Choosing a favorite piece of artwork is tough—they’re all fantastic! However, if I had to pick, there’s two scenes that stand out. It’s the delightful moment where the giraffes write a letter of complaint and the scene where the Dove returns to the ark with the olive leaf.
As for a favorite animal, I have a soft spot for the Hippos and the Giraffes. Their playful antics and endless curiosity add such a fun vibe to the story, making them unforgettable.
An audio version is attached to the book for a more immersive adventure experience to bring the characters to life. Can you tell us more about it?
Yes, I had no idea that I could do voiceovers. I have read to 141+ children at different times, and every time I read, the children would be surprisingly quiet throughout and listen and giggle in between. Even the ones that are at the busy age where they can’t keep still! I guess, like the book, that was another surprise!
What do you think will be the first impression of The Floating Zoo that sticks with readers? An image, a sentence, a paragraph, or a feeling?
The first impression would be “Delightful.” Those that I have met who have read it enjoyed how adorable and colorful the book was and how fun the rhyme and story are.
What do you believe will be the key takeaway that your readers will have after reading the story?
Key takeaways would be that Children’s Bible stories are fun, and there is a lot of value and wisdom to glean from them for adults and children.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about The Floating Zoo, yourself, or your writing?
Please visit our website, shilohesther.com; we would love to hear from you! We would be grateful for feedback and requests. This was our first book but certainly not the last!
About the Book
Written by Shiloh Moyo
Illustrated by Tori Kate
Ages 3+ | 38 Pages
Publisher: Shiloh Moyo | ISBN-13: 9798988481300
Publisher’s Book Summary: Get ready for an EPIC adventure on “The Floating Zoo!” When God asked Noah to build an ark and gather two of every kind of animal, Noah didn’t know what he was in for. From mischievous monkeys to graceful giraffes and not forgetting the sneaky snakes and everything in between, the Floating Zoo is packed with an amazing array of creatures that will capture your imagination.
Despite the challenges of caring for so many creatures, Noah and his family persevered with faith and determination. They worked tirelessly to make sure every animal was safe and comfortable on their journey, no matter matter.
With rough storms, Noah and his family remained steadfast. And finally, after months of rain, the ark landed on dry ground, and the animals were free to roam once more.
This rhyming, rollicking ride through one of the most iconic Bible stories of all time is perfect for children of all ages. With charming illustrations and a heartwarming message about the power of faith, The Floating Zoo is a must-have for any family’s bookshelf.
So climb aboard and get ready for an adventure you’ll never forget!
Buy the Book
About the Author
Shiloh Moyo is fueled by an unwavering love for Jesus. She has become a favorite Sunday school teacher to many little ones. Shiloh is also a Minister, a Creative, a Musician, and a Serial Entrepreneur. She left Fashion school to answer God’s calling on her life to ministry. Her educational background is in Communications, Ministry, Design, Business, and Child Psychology, and Shiloh brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her work. Through various outreach programs, she has had the privilege of working closely with orphans and inner-city kids from different countries.
Originally from Zimbabwe, a captivating country in Southern Africa, known for its breathtaking adventures, abundant wildlife, and loving and delightfully intriguing people. Shiloh lives in the United States and in the hearts of more than 4000 children that she has read to and ministered to.
For more information, visit shilohesther.com.
This interview—Brian Thalhammer Talks About Jessica Warrior: The Heartbeat Hero—was conducted between Shiloh Moyo and Bianca Schulze.