Ruthie and Her Ances­tors: A Brief Jour­ney Through Jew­ish History

Judith Wein­shall Liber­man; Al Mar­go­lis, illus.
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By – June 15, 2017

Ruthie and Her Ances­tors is the sto­ry of a young girl who wants to know more about her fam­i­ly back­ground. She is hop­ing to dis­cov­er she is descend­ed from a king — and is there­fore a princess of sorts. Ruthie’s father begins to tell her the long sto­ry of where their fam­i­ly came from, start­ing with Abra­ham, Isaac, and Jacob. Some­where in the mid­dle of the sto­ry of Joseph, Ruthie falls asleep. As she dreams, the his­to­ry of the Jew­ish peo­ple con­tin­ues to unfold. As the sub­ti­tle indi­cates, this is a brief jour­ney;” her dream skips through the many events, high­light­ing only a few. Ruthie meets King David, the slaves build­ing the pyra­mids, and Moses as he pre­pares to climb the moun­tain. Ruthie chats with every­one she meets, try­ing to dis­cov­er if any of them are her ancestors. 

Time skips again, and Ruthie finds her­self in Italy, where she dis­cov­ers that the chief rab­bi of Pad­ua actu­al­ly is one of her ances­tors. We fol­low Ruthie as she meets a prince from Poland, who is vis­it­ing the rab­bi. She fol­lows the prince back to Poland. He takes on the rabbi’s son, Saul, as an advi­sor. When the king dies, Saul tem­porar­i­ly takes his place. This is where Ruthie wakes up, won­der­ing if Saul is, indeed, one of her ances­tors, thus ful­fill­ing her wish to be a real princess.

Ruthie and Her Ances­tors is a quick and some­what scat­tered romp through parts of Jew­ish his­to­ry. The text is quite long, mak­ing this a bet­ter option for an old­er pic­ture-book audi­ence of ages 5 – 8. Art in a soft col­or palette enhances the tale.

Mar­cia Ber­neger is a retired teacher who lives with her hus­band and three crazy dogs. She taught both first and sec­ond grade, as well as spe­cial edu­ca­tion. She cur­rent­ly teach­es Torah school, in addi­tion to her vol­un­teer work in class­rooms, libraries, and with var­i­ous fundrais­ers. She lives in San Diego.

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