King David

Louise Chip­ley Slavicek
  • Review
By – November 1, 2011
You can’t tell a book by its cov­er” cer­tain­ly applies here. While pack­ag­ing her­alds junior high school nec­es­sary-but-dull home work assign­ment tool,’ the con­tents are far from it. Author Louise Slav­icek deliv­ers an excel­lent, sophis­ti­cat­ed, and con­sis­tent­ly inter­est­ing chrono­log­i­cal account of the bib­li­cal King for high school stu­dents. The author intro­duces one of Tanach’s most col­or­ful char­ac­ters, pars­es his world and explains his era’s music, sling shots, height mea­sure­ments, oth­er bible heroes and bur­ial meth­ods for a hat­ed ene­my in the Mid­dle East. The slim book is con­cise. Short chap­ters with sub­di­vi­sions keep details fresh rather than numb­ing; the read­er is free to absorb and ana­lyze facts. Slav­icek cel­e­brates David’s faith, charm and abil­i­ty to lead, but does not hide his ambi­tions, cru­el­ty or pater­nal prej­u­dices. David is an out­sized celebri­ty who takes full respon­si­bil­i­ty for his acts, good or bad, thus pro­vid­ing a pow­er­ful role mod­el for today’s chil­dren. Impor­tant to David’s char­ac­ter is his unwa­ver­ing faith, his pas­sion for God’s for­give­ness, even when his acts are ille­gal, uneth­i­cal or decid­ed­ly non-regal. The strong vocab­u­lary is defined on the spot. The open­ing essay on lead­er­ship by a major his­to­ri­an is philo­soph­i­cal­ly daunt­ing and helps peg this book for high school and above. A few dis­ap­point­ments: the map does not include many cities cit­ed in the action. The illus­tra­tions are clas­si­cal paint­ings, but none are named, no artist not­ed; instead cred­it goes to the muse­um send­ing the pho­to­graph. Quib­bles aside, this non-fic­tion for old­er chil­dren is based on a plat­inum adult bib­li­og­ra­phy con­tain­ing the lat­est David research. He was antiquity’s man to know; by read­ing this book you know him bet­ter. For ages 14 and up.

Ellen G. Cole, a retired librar­i­an of the Levine Library of Tem­ple Isa­iah in Los Ange­les, is a past judge of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards and a past chair­per­son of that com­mit­tee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excel­lence in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture. Ellen is the recip­i­ent of two major awards for con­tri­bu­tion to Juda­ic Librar­i­an­ship, the Fan­ny Gold­stein Mer­it Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroed­er Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. She is on the board of AJLSC.

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