It is always a challenge to write a collective biography. The author must communicate a vivid picture of each person’s life in a compelling and concise manner. Unfortunately, this book of twelve mini-biographies is not up to this difficult task. It was not a good choice to place the photo credits, acknowledgments, lengthy dedication, and in memoriam note, at the beginning, as it interferes significantly with the reader’s first appraoch to the main text. The subjects of the biographies come from diverse time periods and places: They include wellknown people such as Dona Gracia Nasi and Golda Meir, as well as lesser-known women such as Anna Ticho and Abby Joseph Cohen. The writing is workmanlike, bland, and didactic — similar to a curriculum guide. The authors are so concerned with teaching Jewish values that they simply fail to capture the reader’s interest. They clearly have done much research, but the editors have been lazy: the book is rife with sloppy grammatical and punctuation errors. With only one small photo at the beginning of each biography, with narrow margins and few design elements to break the monotony of the text, this book will probably be used only as a quick reference for student projects. Ages 10 & up.
Andrea Davidson is the librarian of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, Ohio. She holds an M.L.S. from the University of Michigan and is a former member of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards Committee. She enjoys trying out the books she reviews on the kids at the Temple and on her grandchildren.