THE TOWER OF BABEL by Marilyn--Adapt. Hirsh


Email this review


Whichever way one construes the Biblical parable--as a demonstration that ""pride goeth before a fall"" or as an explanation of the origin of languages--it turns out to be so well suited to pictorialization, at a quite young level, that one wonders why no one has seized upon it before. Marilyn Hirsh is, of course, especially adept at such adaptations. She leads UP to the building of the fateful tower by having Noah's descendants first build ""a fine village""; then, discontented (like the insatiable fisherman's wife in Grimm), build an imposing city; and then, spurred by those who were still ""not satisfied,"" embark upon the tower, ""right in the center of the city."" Meanwhile we see, in an extension of the lesson, the disparate peoples living together harmoniously in the village; and we see the architectural chaos that ensues, too, when God smites them fox their pride by ""confus[ing] their language so that they cannot understand one another."" True, it's a historical to place upon this Mesopotamian tower a Greek temple, a gothic church, etc. (as it is, earlier, to endow the band of Flood survivors with African and other post-dispersal features); but such dramatic license is certainly allowable to put across the story's meaning to youngsters--and come across it does as, finally, Greeks and Egyptians and Arabs and Asians engage in a free-for-all on the crazy-quilt tower and then stream out of the city . . . to scatter ""over all the earth."" With a brisk, colloquial text and pictures that invite close, repeated inspection, it's a total--and valuable--success.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1981
Publisher: Holiday House