Scarlett and Sam are off again (Escape from Egypt, 2015) on Grandma Mina’s magic flying carpet, this time to ancient Jerusalem.
There they meet King Solomon, who is new on the job, overseeing an impoverished Israel. They immediately witness the event that will define this wise king, as he mediates two women’s dispute over a baby. He has been commanded by God to build a temple without using iron tools but does not have other means to cut the stones. The Jewish twins find themselves involved in a quest to find the shamir, a creature that can cut stones just by looking at them. With guard captain B.Z. (short for Benayahu ben Yehoiada), the prophet Nathan, and Solomon’s ring, which holds the power of God, they find the demon Ashmodai who is holding the shamir. Dangers, duplicity, and acts of courage ensue, and they triumph. While the ancient characters do not know what the future holds (with one odd exception), Scarlett and Sam have learned in Hebrew school of the people and events of the Torah, as well as the midrashim, the stories and legends that complement the Torah. Kimmel takes a nontraditional approach, employing 21st-century syntax and sensibilities for all the characters, making the tale accessible for modern readers, whatever their religions. Stevanovic’s manga-like gray-toned illustrations nicely merge the ancient with the contemporary.
A lively combination of ancient history, religion, and thrilling magic. (author’s note) (Historical fantasy. 8-12)