Engi­neer Arielle and the Israel Inde­pen­dence Day Surprise

Deb­o­rah Cohen
  • Review
By – July 14, 2017

This sat­is­fy­ing addi­tion to the Engi­neer Ari series springs for­ward to the present day. Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of her great-great grand­fa­ther, Engi­neer Ari who drove the first steam engine from Jaf­fa to Jerusalem, Arielle also dri­ves a train, only now it’s Jerusalem’s pop­u­lar light rail line. As she leaves for work, Arielle wish­es her broth­er Ezra a hap­py Yom Ha’Atzma’ut!” in cel­e­bra­tion of Israel’s Inde­pen­dence Day, and hints that she’ll see him lat­er. Before begin­ning her shift, she tapes a large poster to the top of the train, and then takes off on her route through the cen­ter of the city. At each stop she greets friends and fam­i­ly who are cel­e­brat­ing the hol­i­day, and when they ask about her hol­i­day plans she says she’ll be cel­e­brat­ing with Ezra. We’ll all cel­e­brate with him!” Final­ly a for­ma­tion of Israeli Air Force planes appears in their annu­al nation­al fly­over, and it is Ezra who is pilot­ing the lead, spot­ting Arielle’s train from the large hol­i­day greet­ing she has fixed to the roof. 

Time-shift­ing to mod­ern Jerusalem gives this series a fresh per­spec­tive on life in Israel, jux­ta­pos­ing the old with the new as the sleek train glides by the ancient walls of the Old City and the out­door mar­ket stalls of Machane Yehu­da, past the busy cen­tral bus sta­tion, and across a strik­ing­ly mod­ern bridge designed to look like King David’s harp. Illus­tra­tor Yael Kimhi Orrelle is new to the series, but man­ages to main­tain the charm­ing sim­plic­i­ty and palette of the orig­i­nal books while high­light­ing con­tem­po­rary Israel’s diver­si­ty and civic pride.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 4 to 7.

Teri Mark­son has been a children’s librar­i­an for over 18 years. She is cur­rent­ly the act­ing senior librar­i­an at the Val­ley Plaza Branch Library in North Hol­ly­wood, CA.

Discussion Questions