Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Cross­es, and Crescents

Mark Pod­w­al
  • Review
By – August 6, 2012
With won­ders and mir­a­cles, the sky over Jerusalem touch­es the world below.” The first sen­tence in Podwal’s beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed paean to Jerusalem cap­tures its theme. Draw­ing on strands of leg­end, he cel­e­brates the sky above the city and the places in Jerusalem that are sacred to Jews, Chris­tians, and Moslems. Each page of short, poet­ic nar­ra­tive is faced by an illus­tra­tion that blends the real­is­tic with the sym­bol­ic: a heav­en­ly lad­der reach­ing down toward Jerusalem, the morn­ing sun’s red rays, the full moon above Solomon’s Tem­ple, the star that announced Jesus’ birth, Muhammad’s white horse on its heav­en­ly jour­ney. Sev­er­al dou­ble page spreads evoke the destruc­tion of the Tem­ple, the Church of the Holy Sep­ul­cher, and the Noble Sanc­tu­ary, with its gold­en dome repeat­ed in the sun shin­ing over­head. Podwal’s tal­ent as a col­orist is ful­ly appar­ent in these illus­tra­tions while his words cap­ture Jerusalem’s sacred place in the three monothe­is­tic reli­gions. They end opti­misti­cal­ly, with rain­bows over the city, show­ing that hope lights the Jerusalem sky.” This is quite a dif­fer­ent view of Jerusalem than the no-less-true one offered in Sylvia Rouss’s Tali’s Jerusalem Scrap­book (Pit­spopa­ny, 2003) and more sim­i­lar to Kar­la Kuskin’s Jerusalem Shin­ing Still (Harp­er and Row, 1987), and Jane Yolen’s O Jerusalem (Blue Sky Press, 1996). Togeth­er, they give chil­dren a sense of the con­tra­dic­tions that must inform any under­stand­ing of Jerusalem. For ages 9 – 12.
Lin­da R. Sil­ver is a spe­cial­ist in Jew­ish children’s lit­er­a­ture. She is edi­tor of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries’ Jew­ish Val­ues­find­er, www​.ajl​jew​ish​val​ues​.org, and author of Best Jew­ish Books for Chil­dren and Teens: A JPS Guide (The Jew­ish Pub­li­ca­tion Soci­ety, 2010) and The Jew­ish Val­ues Find­er: A Guide to Val­ues in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture (Neal-Schu­man, 2008).

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