Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review: A Queen in Jerusalem by Tami Shem-Tov, Rachella Sandbank and Avi Ofer


In Jerusalem, in the early 20th century, a little girl named Malka—"queen" in Hebrew—dreams of dressing up as Queen Esther. It is the festival of Purim, and all the kids are looking forward to celebrating in their costumes. But Malka's mother doesn't have time to prepare a Purim costume for her. Where can Malka get a costume in time for the holiday?

"I hope it doesn't rain and get the laundry wet," says Malka's mother, hanging a shirt on the line.
But Malka hopes it will rain and get the laundry wet.

The opening lines perfectly capture the petulance of a child who did not get her way. Malka's mother did not have time to put together a costume, presumably because she has been busy with everything else that goes into life. Maybe it's the busy Mom in me, but I would have liked to see a little more sympathy expressed towards her by the end. It can never hurt to remind children who are moving developmentally out of the egocentric stage that there are other people in the world besides them. (If she's old enough to wander the streets of Jerusalem, she's old enough to help Mom out a bit!)

From feeling "cold and grey" like the streets, Malka steps into a seemingly magical place where beautiful miracles are created - what a fantasy world for a little one! This world is based on the very real Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, and young readers are introduced to its founder, Boris Schatz. A brief biography is included at the end, and may inspire young readers to find out more about him and the Academy. If not, the story itself should inspire a bit of dress-up around the house, for Purim or just for fun!

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