Based on the poem, “The Pond,” by classic Hebrew poet Hayim Nachman Bialik, this peaceful picture book follows a young girl and her mother as they walk together through the Jerusalem forest and gaze at their reflections in a pond. The trees and the sky, reflected in the water, seem upside-down to the sensitive, perceptive girl, giving her and the reader the sense that perspective can be variable and changing; everything can be what it seems to be while also expanding the mind with an appreciation of greater possibilities.
Bialik, often called “Israel’s national poet,” was born in Russia and, late in life, relocated to Israel before it was a state. His poems were written in Yiddish but primarily in Hebrew, and were often about Jewish history and Zionist aspirations. His love for the land of Israel is reflected in his lyrical poems about nature, some of which were written for children. “The Pond,” written between the years 1904 and 1905, is a complex and nuanced ode to nature, introspective thought, and Jewish philosophy. It inspired Devora Busheri’s captivating and thought-provoking picture book which is deceptively simple and subtly conveys a sense of Bialik’s thoughts and expressive language.
Illustrator Noa Kelner paints the forest as a place of mystery and peace, a perfect setting for reflection and quiet joy. The mother and child react to the scenery all around them and the viewer is as much a part of the landscape as the landscape is part of the viewer. The art and text meld into a seamless whole.
This book is a lovely homage to poetic imagery, nature, and the bond between parent and child.
Leslie Kimmelman grew up outside Philadelphia and graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont. She is the author of many children’s books, awards for which include Best Children’s Books of the Year from the Bank Street College of Education; Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies; and Sydney Taylor Notable Books. Kimmelman is an editor at Sesame Workshop and lives with her family just north of New York City.