A Snake, a Flood, a Hidden Baby: Bible Stories for Children

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Product Details
$21.99  $20.45
Kalaniot Books
Publish Date
8.9 X 9.8 X 0.3 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author
Meir Shalev is an award-wining Israeli writer and newspaper columnist. He has written over 28 books for adults and children. Shalev's books have been translated into 26 languages. In 2006, Shalev won the National Jewish Book Award for A Pigeon and A Boy.
Almost every picture in this Israeli import looks like a celebration. The animals on Noah's Ark could be having a wild rumpus. In fact, all the animals in this collection of Bible stories smile more often than they do in nature. Even when Eve is plucking fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, a crowd of beasts gathers around enthusiastically to watch. The darkest scenes in the book tend to be accompanied by moments of joy. The chapter about Joseph climaxes with Joseph presumed dead and his father weeping, but the final paragraph begins: "This is all very important and all very interesting. But what is far more important and interesting is that after many years, Joseph and his brothers met again." Shalev seems to have selected the six stories for their drama and left out anything that isn't brisk and entertaining. The story of Noah, for example, omits the raven. But he sometimes adds tiny, enchanting details. His description of the abandoned Tower of Babel says that "the angels would play hide-and-seek in it, and birds built their nests inside." Luzzati's illustrations use so many bright colors that even Joseph's sale into slavery looks faintly joyous, with the merchants, at least, smiling. Both the author and the artist seem to take delight from the simple power of the stories. Most human characters have paper-white skin and rosy cheeks. This book is less a religious experience than a celebration of storytelling.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
This book offers an engaging telling of six biblical stories (five from Genesis and one from Exodus) as interpreted by the iconic Israeli author Meir Shalev. The English translation by Ilana Kershan, a writer steeped in Jewish heritage, is both natural and nuanced. The luminous illustrations by the Italian artist Emanuele Luzzati will ignite the imagination of readers of all ages. The narratives in this sophisticated picture book are well-suited to middle-grade readers, with exchanges between the biblical heroes made relatable for young readers: in the chapter about Adam and Eve, "The two of them looked at each other, blushed, and then burst out laughing." There are also imaginative flourishes, such as the description of the appearance of the Tower of Babel in the aftermath of its destruction: "The tower remained there alone and abandoned. At first the angels would play hide-and-seek in it, and birds built their nests inside...." The story-telling goes beyond the plot of the passages, with the morals presented in ways that are reassuring and not pedantic. It is also clear that we are reading only a passage of a longer story in the drama of the Jewish people, with the future foreshadowed: " After many years, Joseph and his brothers met again. And what is most important and interesting of all is that Joseph also met his father again... But that is another story, for another time." This book is elegantly aligned with the values of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards. Each of the six chapters (The Tree of Knowledge, Noah's Ark, The Tower of Babel, Abraham and Sarah, Joseph and His Brothers, and Moses in the River) gently immerses the reader in beloved and foundational stories of Jewish heritage. Individually and collectively, the stories encourage the shaping of Jewish identity and "only connect" the prose and the passion (to borrow the words of E.M. Foster) This book is a worthy and mirthful introduction to biblical stories, and will retain the interest of those already familiar with the plot--including parents and teachers, who may choose to read it out loud to younger children. The book can easily glide through the libraries of varied denominations. The original Hebrew version was published in 1994, but the writing remains vivid. Best of all, this book may encourage English readers of all backgrounds to explore the original biblical texts.--Eva L. Weiss "Association of Jewish Libraries / Sydney Taylor Shmooze"
Acclaimed Israeli author Meir Shalev (who writes books for both adults and children) turns his considerable talents to ensuring that this collection of Bible stories appeals to children. As he writes in a note at the front of the book, "Imagine that some of you think that Bible stories are just what you learn in school and in synagogue. But if so, you are missing out." Shalev then proceeds to share six of his favorite stories: the Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, Abraham and Sarah, Joseph and his Brothers, and Moses in the River. Shalev presents them in a straightforward, conversational, accessible-to-all narration. God especially is accessible here --intimate rather than intimidating, prone to being weary and frustrated, and sometimes even surprised by his creation. At one point, as the Tower of Babel grows higher and higher into the heavens, God tells his angels, "I'm starting to think that [humans are] capable of quite a lot." This is definitely a God with a personality young children will understand. Luzzati's illustrations are absolutely wonderful and deserve special attention. The pictures are richly colored and textured as well as full of action and humor. They depict humans in all their flawed and familiar glory, showing both their strengths and follies. God's love for these humans is certain. The art is perfectly suited to the young audience. Unfortunately, not everyone's favorite Bible stories could have been included in this highly recommended collection that definitely leaves the reader wanting more. Still, at the close of the Joseph chapter, which ends with Joseph's sale to the Midianites (and doesn't finish the long arc of Joseph's story), Shalev writes, "But that is another story, for another time." Perhaps that means we can look forward to a second volume.--Leslie Kimmelman "Jewish Book Council"