Fast Asleep in a Lit­tle Vil­lage in Israel

Jen­nifer Tzivia MacLeod; Tiphanie Beeke, illus.

  • Review
By – July 11, 2018

This love­ly, gen­tle sto­ry fills a giant gap in Jew­ish chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture. Books with­out polit­i­cal under­tones are need­ed to teach chil­dren in the U.S. and around the world what Israeli life is like: its rhythms, its atmos­phere; its tastes, feels, and smells. Here is a book that will entice young read­ers or lis­ten­ers to open their minds and let Israel in, and it’s all done with sweet­ness and a light, easy touch. This charm­ing sto­ry, told in lyri­cal lan­guage and illus­trat­ed with sen­su­ous art, just hits the spot.

Mrs. Strauss can’t sleep because there’s too much noise in her town and too many dis­trac­tions. But when she hears a dif­fer­ent kind of sound — that of the long-await­ed first rain­fall of the sea­son — it lulls and soothes her. The rain brings joy to all those wait­ing for it to nour­ish and rebal­ance the too-dry land. In Israel, rain is nev­er tak­en for grant­ed. Each drop is greet­ed with relief and joy­ful celebration.

This decep­tive­ly sim­ple tale high­lights a major con­cern of Israeli life. The need for rain and the fear of drought are nev­er far from mind. The accom­pa­ny­ing illus­tra­tions are out­stand­ing. With col­or and move­ment, they con­vey a dry, hazy Israeli day and then a glo­ri­ous­ly rainy one with exact­ly the right flair. A note at the end of the book dis­cuss­es the impor­tance of rain, explains a bit about the cli­mate, and offers some addi­tion­al food for thought.

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.

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