My Israel and Me

Alice Blu­men­thal McGin­ty, Rotem Teplow (Illus­tra­tor)

  • Review
By – December 10, 2021

In per­fect­ly rhyming, rhyth­mic quar­tets and with remark­able col­or illus­tra­tions that evoke spec­tac­u­lar Israeli land­scapes, Alice Blu­men­thal McGin­ty and Rotem Teplow express pride in Israel’s many accom­plish­ments, joy in its beau­ti­ful scenery, admi­ra­tion of its diverse pop­u­la­tion, and respect­ful recog­ni­tion of its unique place in both real­i­ty and the imag­i­na­tion. The rhyming quar­tets, told from a child’s per­spec­tive, alter­nate with pithy prose para­graphs that describe Israel and guide young read­ers through its var­ied and fas­ci­nat­ing features.

Bustling mod­ern cities, ancient his­toric sites, and rur­al coun­try locales are all appeal­ing­ly described along with col­or­ful mar­ket­places, inno­v­a­tive high-tech busi­ness­es, and spec­tac­u­lar land­scapes. Ethiopi­an Jews and oth­er Jews of col­or, nomadic Bedouins, tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish fam­i­lies of many kinds, and proud Arab-Israeli Mus­lims appear in these pages, draw­ing a var­ie­gat­ed and real­is­tic pic­ture of Israel’s pop­u­la­tion, each group main­tain­ing its own thriv­ing cul­ture but all join­ing togeth­er as proud Israeli citizens.

Israel is por­trayed as a spe­cial place where bib­li­cal sto­ries come alive, preser­va­tion of nature is giv­en care­ful atten­tion, and dai­ly life is pro­duc­tive and mean­ing­ful. In a world in which much incon­sis­tent, incor­rect, and bad­ly skewed infor­ma­tion about Israel is easy to find, this lyri­cal-yet-real­is­tic por­tray­al is a much-need­ed addi­tion to the pic­ture book genre. The poems, descrip­tions, and illus­tra­tions present an Israel rec­og­niz­able to those who live there and know it well; a coun­try of com­plex­i­ty that is both ultra-mod­ern and ancient, inno­v­a­tive and spir­i­tu­al, ener­getic and peaceful.

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.

Discussion Questions