Manushkin floridly retells ten stories about women from the Hebrew Bible, all which will be well known to those who attend religious schools where Biblical stories are told. Although most chapters deal with individuals, Eve, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, etc., she devotes two chapters to "The Women of the Exodus," including Moses's mother, and "The Women in the Wilderness," with the incident of the golden calf. But Hebrew Bible in an English translation should be an example of plain language with certain poetic forms and repetitions meant originally to be transmitted orally. So, when the reteller reduces a perfect line, e.g., "Entreat me not to leave thee . . . " into, "Do not entreat me to leave you . . . " simplicity and clarity are lost, replaced by awkwardness and wordiness. Too often the exclamation point is used to convey excitement and danger, rather than verbs to carry the emotion. Alas, although the book is about the matriarchs, the patriarchs, by and large, still set the stage and are more centrally involved in the drama. Shulevitz (What Is a Wise Bird Like You Doing in a Silly Tale Like This?
, 2000, etc.), who continues to experiment with style and media, uses mixed media and creates tactile, textured settings that convey time and place. Settings are striking, but human figures are sometimes strange, especially in profile. When Biblical stories are wanted for oral presentation, these will do and the full-page art carries. But—be warned, the wordy embellishments tend to distract from these ancient stories and histories, which is really too bad in such a lush book. (Nonfiction. 9-12)Read full book review >