Framed by brief reference to the holiday: the story of Queen Esther, her intrepid cousin Mordecai, and the king's vicious minister Human--who sought to take his revenge on Mordecai (for not bowing down to him) by killing all the Jews. The outcome--Haman first forced to honor Mordecai, then hanged on the gallows meant for Mordecai--makes this one of the bloodier, more dramatic Jewish-holiday tales. Even in Greenfeld's stolid, journeyman telling--neither colloquial nor literary--it has a certain punch. The illustrations, as before in this series, consist of motifs or at most vignettes, not scenes. But they do have a robustness and vigor that the text can well use.