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.