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An absorbing story that will engage readers in the study of history.

One object travels through several countries over centuries.

That object is a haggadah, read at Passover seders. The beautifully illustrated book was a 14th-century Jewish wedding gift. Handed down through generations, it left Spain in the late-15th century, when the Inquisition forced Jews into exile. It was taken to Italy and then Bosnia, but its pages stayed intact even when wine stains and a child’s Hebrew writing marred its appearance. In 1894, the National Museum in Bosnia purchased the book, now known as the Sarajevo Haggadah. People of many faiths—including Catholicism, Christian Orthodoxy, Islam, and Judaism—coexisted in Sarajevo, “sometimes in peace, sometimes quarreling.” When World War II broke out and a Nazi general wanted to steal the haggadah, the curator of the museum, a Muslim scholar, hid the book in his pants and took it to a village, where it was concealed by an imam. After the war, the curator brought the haggadah back to the museum, but other misfortunes befell the book. With colorful, naïve illustrations highlighting different eras, the appealing narrative emphasizes that people of different religions and cultures saved the book, still on view. This tale is based on stories told over the years; throughout, the strong message of the importance of caring for such a rare volume shines through, making this unusual selection useful in religious and secular settings alike.

An absorbing story that will engage readers in the study of history. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781728486468

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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A lighthearted recap of some of our oldest tales.

For her latest cartoon foray into ancient cultures, Williams concocts a brisk dash through Egyptian myth and history.

Drawing figures in traditional Egyptian style but with a more natural range of expressions and gestures, she constructs flat-planed scenes that range from small sequential strips to full-page images and even larger ones on double gatefolds. Her nine episodes begin with a creation myth, end with Cleopatra’s death and in between introduce a select set of major gods and Pharaohs. Large and small, each picture is decked with strings of hieroglyphic-like signs for atmosphere as well as side comments in dialogue balloons to go with the short, legible captions. Though she freely mixes legend and fact without distinguishing one from the other in the main going, a smaller strip running below provides a cat’s-eye view of the subject. The patterns of Egyptian daily life (“Cats are Egypt’s greatest wonder, followed by the river Nile”), how mummies were made (“Yes, we do cats, too!”), early technological advances and general cultural values receive tongue-in-cheek glosses. The colorful, briefly told stories provide nothing like a systematic overview but are easily enjoyed for themselves, and they may well leave young readers with a hankering to find out more about Isis and Horus, Zoser, Hatshepsut, Tutankhamen and the rest.

A lighthearted recap of some of our oldest tales. (map) (Picture book/folklore. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5308-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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In a boyish three-day adventure, Teedie (Roosevelt) and Johnnie (Muir) dodge, if temporarily, the confines of more formal...

Theodore Roosevelt’s 1903 trip to the western parks included a backcountry camping trip—complete with snowstorm—with John Muir in the Yosemite Wilderness and informed the president’s subsequent advocacy for national parks and monuments.

In a boyish three-day adventure, Teedie (Roosevelt) and Johnnie (Muir) dodge, if temporarily, the confines of more formal surroundings to experience firsthand the glories of the mountains and ancient forests. (You can't ever quite take the boy out of the man, and Rosenstock's use of her subjects’ childhood names evokes a sense of Neverland ebullience, even as the grownup men decided the fate of the wilderness.) The narrative is intimate and yet conveys the importance of the encounter both as a magnificent getaway for the lively president and a chance for the brilliant environmentalist to tell the trees’ side of the story. Gerstein’s depiction of the exuberant president riding off with Muir is enchantingly comical and liberating. A lovely two-page spread turns the opening to a long vertical to show the two men in the Mariposa Grove, relatively small even on horseback, surrounded by the hush and grandeur of the giant sequoias, while in another double-page scene, after a photo of the two at Glacier Point, Muir lies on his back at the edge of the canyon, demonstrating to an attentive Roosevelt how the glacier carved the deep valley below. An author’s note explains that the dialogue is imagined and reconstructed from Muir’s writing as well as from other accounts of the meeting.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3710-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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