No, don’t sigh, another Noah’s Ark! This lovely picture book is a fresh take using a different poetic style to teach young readers something new while they bask in a familiar old Bible tale. Here, the point of view of the traditional story comes from Noah’s wife. We learn that a scholar in 1941 listed 103 possible names for her. Rabbinic legends parse some of these; this version rests on the legend that Naamah can mean ‘a great singer.’ Naamah sings at night to comfort animals, husband, sons, and spouses. The text delivers the night and her voice in the poetic structure of a ghazal, a strict Arabic form where every line ends in the same word, while the rhyming is internal and changes with each couplet. The poetry reads beautifully. The author’s choice of vocabulary paints dramatic word pictures of night in a storm. The rhyming words provide colorful choices for animal descriptions and actions. The singing is comforting to all, not only the denizens of the ark, but readers who might fear the dark. The illustrations are watercolor collage. The art, in color or in silhouette, has drama and depth to match the words. Naamah is the counterpoint to the edginess; she is warm and calm, a plump matron, soothing to all. Highly recommended for its art and its introduction of a new poetic form to readers age 4 – 7.
Ellen G. Cole, the 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.