Even those not familiar with Rabbi Akiva’s monumental achievements will be moved by his devotion to learning and his wife’s...

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A STORY OF RABBI AKIVA

A devoted wife is the inspiration behind a noted scholar of Judaism.

Rachel, a rich man’s daughter, falls in love with a poor, illiterate shepherd named Akiva who works for her father. She recognizes that a man “with such goodness in his heart, who understood so much about life, must be smart.” Her father disowns her, but they marry and she encourages him to study even though he is 40. Akiva is reluctant, but one day he observes the power of water to slowly erode stone and realizes that “I can learn—just like water cuts through stone—a little bit each day.” He begins attending school with children, masters Hebrew, and then leaves home for many years to study Torah. Akiva becomes the revered sage of Judaism, “a wise rabbi followed by thousands of students.” His wife is never forgotten. The historical Akiva lived and studied in the first century CE, after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and worked to codify Judaism’s oral laws into the Mishnah portion of the Talmud. Jules has based her warmly told narrative on legends of the sage and his wife. Nayberg’s richly textured illustrations are stately and sculptural, depicting Rachel and Akiva with pale skin and red hair.

Even those not familiar with Rabbi Akiva’s monumental achievements will be moved by his devotion to learning and his wife’s loving encouragement. (author’s note) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-2091-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A mildly stimulating and challenging exploration of the holiday.

ABC PASSOVER HUNT

An alphabet book employs a series of riddles and puzzles to engage children in the recognition of the various aspects of the Passover holiday.

An initial search to find all the letters in a double-page illustration features a typical table set for the Seder meal. This is followed by 24 rhymed questions posed in alphabetical order that present a variety of customs, symbols, characters, and concepts of the holiday. For example, the letter B is represented by “Baby Moses,” and readers are asked to choose the correct boat used to float the baby on the Nile. Children are offered a multiple-choice assortment of picture clues that are drawn in a clear, simple cartoon style. In the case of Moses, the vessels include a leaf, a cardboard box, a woven basket, an inner tube, a rowboat, and a rubber ducky. Some of the inquiries are straightforward or obvious for the holiday, while others, such as the page that addresses slavery, require some thinking and possible discussion. A variety of methods are also used to achieve the answers, such as solving a maze and reading a map. Others may require actual knowledge of the subject posed, such as the one on the 15th of Nisan, the Hebrew day and month that Passover begins. Together these short games can be used as an impetus to discuss the holiday's story and significance or to retell its various aspects.

A mildly stimulating and challenging exploration of the holiday. (author’s note, answer key) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-7843-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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An average version of an extraordinary tale.

THE BEAUTIFUL LADY

OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

Mora retells the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

On a cold day in December, Rose and her friend Terry are visiting Rose’s Grandma Lupita. After teaching Terry how to make paper flowers, the older woman begins telling them the story of the Lady of Guadalupe. The author keeps the tale simple enough for the book’s intended early-elementary audience, as she relates how the poor Juan Diego first met the Lady on Tepeyac Hill, outside of what is now Mexico City. Juan Diego follows the Lady’s request to go to the bishop and “ask him to build a special church for her on the hilltop.” The bishop requests a sign, which the Lady eventually provides to Juan Diego in the form of roses and her image on his tilma (cloak). The story returns to the present day, and Grandma Lupita and the girls share rose cookies in her kitchen. Although framing the famous Mexican story within a modern-day setting may appeal to some readers, doing so also removes some of the tale’s potency and leaves the text riddled with quotation marks. While vividly colored, the artwork by Johnson and Fancher often falls flat in the frame story, though placing the illustrations of the tale-within-the-tale within colorful borders is a nice feature.

An average version of an extraordinary tale. (author’s note) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86838-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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