A fictionalized account of the first public performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in 1936.
Uri, bored at his parents’ delicatessen, walks with his grandmother through Tel Aviv. Unable to converse, since Uri’s grandmother speaks German and Uri does not, they communicate mainly through gestures from Grandma and guesses from Uri. Grandma seems to know where she wants to go, but Uri’s not so sure: “Maybe she’s following the men with the funny-shaped cases.” The men with the funny-shaped cases are, indeed, what Grandma is interested in, and after several detours, Uri and Grandma find themselves at the first-ever performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Shem-Tov and Sandbank’s text (in an uncredited translation) relies on a presumed understanding of the significance of newly formed Israel to pack their emotional punch, never explicitly saying why Grandma is so moved by and invested in this performance. Blues, greens, and yellows make up the primary palette of Ofer’s soft, mixed-media illustrations—reminiscent of the work of Peter H. Reynolds—with painted backgrounds and thin outlines conveying a steady gentleness. All characters are as white as the paper on which they’re printed, although the vast majority are presumably Jewish. While Uri’s first-person rhetorical questioning feels more forced and less exciting than perhaps intended, the soothing illustrations convey a calm not contemporarily associated with Israel.
A solid addition to the small collection of Zionist picture books. (historical note, photographs) (Picture book. 4-7)