A Queen in Jerusalem

Tami Shem-Tov and Rachel­la Sand­bank; Avi Ofer, illus.
  • Review
By – March 1, 2018

Mal­ka is dis­ap­point­ed that her moth­er does­n’t have time to make her a Purim cos­tume, but her moth­er thinks she’s now old enough to make her own. Mal­ka sad­ly walks through the streets of Jerusalem. She can sense the city’s excite­ment for the hol­i­day, but strug­gles to feel excit­ed her­self. How can she rep­re­sent beau­ti­ful Queen Esther on Purim with­out her moth­er’s expert help?

As Mal­ka wan­ders through the city, she dis­cov­ers the mag­ic of Jerusalem. She meets a man named Boris who intro­duces her to a group of weavers who fash­ion her a spec­tac­u­lar robe with gold­en threads. He then finds her a group of gold­smiths who make her a sparkling crown and scepter.

Mal­ka learns that she has entered the Beza­lel art school where stu­dents learn to sculpt, draw, weave, and cre­ate a vari­ety of crafts. The school was named after the artist men­tioned in the Bible who helped design the orig­i­nal Tem­ple in Jerusalem. The art stu­dents ask Mal­ka if they can paint pic­tures of her wear­ing her spe­cial new Queen Esther cos­tume. She sits regal­ly as they paint her por­trait in a vari­ety of styles. She now feels like an actu­al mal­ka, a real queen, and is ready to cel­e­brate Purim.

An author’s note tells the sto­ry of the real-life Boris Schatz who found­ed Beza­lel Acad­e­my in 1906. The school is still train­ing artists today.

As befits a sto­ry about art and artists, the book is charm­ing­ly illus­trat­ed in sub­tle col­or and will give read­ers a good feel for Jerusalem.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 3 to 8.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions