A worthy cultural treasury with appeal to both the faithful and irreligious.

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TREASURY OF BIBLE STORIES

Following her Treasury of Egyptian Mythology (2013) and Tales From the Arabian Nights (2016), Napoli brings her literary eye to a yet another ancient tradition.

Napoli opens with ebullient prose in her retelling of Creation with a “wondrous beginning” and “crystalline start” leading to an Earth that is “lush” and “fragrant,” standing in pointed contrast to the sparse simplicity of the source material found in Genesis 1. Continuing onward she spends the first half of the treasury covering stories from just the first two books of the Torah, retelling the ubiquitous tale of Noah and the establishment of Jewish identity. As the Children of Israel reach the promised land, the treasury begins to diverge from a strict chronology, and succeeding entries follow the order of the Jewish canon, introducing the Nevi’im with David, Goliath, and later Jonah, then on to the Ketuvim, in which such women as Ruth and Esther shine. Title notwithstanding, this collection does not include the Christian New Testament. Balit’s bold illustrations accompany each tale and feature a diversity of skin tones that reflects the many lands from northeast Africa to the Middle East where the drama unfolds; Adam and Eve appear to be sub-Saharan Africans, echoing current thinking on human origins. Sidebars throughout add historical and scientific context to the stories presented while backmatter includes maps, timelines, and brief biographies of the major players.

A worthy cultural treasury with appeal to both the faithful and irreligious. (Religion. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3538-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A useful if occasionally preachy introduction, this book would benefit from the inclusion of more specific details,...

FAITH

FIVE RELIGIONS AND WHAT THEY SHARE

To encourage tolerance, the photographer/authors want to help children understand similarities among Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

The authors assume readers will be people of faith, not atheists or agnostics. After short descriptions of each religion, common themes, such as the Golden Rule, spiritual leaders, sacred texts, clothing, symbols, places of worship, worship acts (use of incense, candles, water, and prayer), charity and cherishing children are explored. The text can be very specific, mentioning branches of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist) without explaining the differences. (Sunni and Shiite Muslims are not delineated.) Activities will help children, teachers and parents think about religion in a comparative manner, although no sources or further reading are provided, which is a glaring omission. The attractive photos are often cropped into circular or curvilinear shapes and presented on brightly colored pages, giving the book the look of a magazine. Identified by religion but not by country, the photos were taken in the United States and eight other nations, including Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam. Interestingly, Israel and India, seemingly obvious choices, are not included. Captions would have been helpful for some photos such as a picture of a Muslim boy in a distinctive white cape and jeweled hat, which remains unexplained in the text.

A useful if occasionally preachy introduction, this book would benefit from the inclusion of more specific details, including holidays and eating customs. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55453-750-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Good supplementary material to increase the holiday’s meaning and currency for older children.

PASSOVER

FESTIVAL OF FREEDOM

From the Orca Origins series

An overview of the holiday of Passover is elaborated with personal narratives, the story’s connection to the Holocaust, and various Seder customs practiced in several countries around the world.

A Canadian author and child of Holocaust survivors, Polak introduces the topic through her own personal account of a secular Jewish upbringing in Montreal. She focuses on how her research on and interest in the Holocaust brought her full circle to hosting her first Seder. The first chapter is devoted to the traditional Haggada, the book used to recount the ancient story, which includes the various rituals performed at the ceremonial meal. She introduces Ben, a Lithuanian survivor, and his version of his family’s Passover observance before World War II. From here Polak clearly connects the biblical story of oppression, escape, and freedom to the Holocaust while segueing into modern-day observance and traditions. Two concluding chapters outline the Jewish community’s charitable commitment to providing food baskets and support for the needy as well as the diversity of multicultural traditions for the holiday as celebrated in not only Israel, but in some Asian, European, and African countries. A plethora of photographs, informational sidebars, drawings, and recipes break up the substantial yet enlightening text.

Good supplementary material to increase the holiday’s meaning and currency for older children. (glossary, index, references) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0990-1

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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