Not every bible story can be successfully translated into a book for young children. This attractive paperback picture book, nevertheless attempts it, and succeeds in many ways. When Sarah understands, that in spite of her advanced age, she will bear a child in a year, she laughs her famous laugh. The book describes this as a “tinkling sound that bubbled from deep inside her and skipped through the air.” Whether or not the sound was as lighthearted as that, we cannot say. Sarah is presented as a beautiful and loyal wife, as well as a generous and welcoming host. The author shows that growing old childless was a source of sadness and worry for Sarah. Natascia Ugliano’s bright illustrations show a very pretty dark haired young woman, growing older throughout the story. Giving young children an acquaintance with our important matriarchs in the Tanach is important. Perhaps more accessible to children than Sarah’s laugh, and the conundrum of the childless wife in the bible, is Abraham’s lonely and original belief in an invisible God, and his decision to listen to God’s directions. God speaks to Abraham and he listens. He leaves his home and journeys to Canaan. Sarah, who seems not hear God’s voice herself, listens as Abraham relates what he understands. Author Jacqueline Jules provides interesting bibliographical notes at the end of the book so that adults who read this may be inspired to explore the matriarch Sarah further. Bound by Kar-Ben in paperback, 10” x 10”, and illustrated with bright pastels in softened primary colors, the book has a lot of child appeal. Colorful tents, sheep, cattle, baskets and jugs, decorate the pages. The succinct text on each page make the story brief enough to read aloud to young children, in groups or individually. For ages 4 to 7.
Naomi Morse managed a public library children’s room in Montgomery County, Maryland for many years, and then worked as head librarian at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School Lower School in Rockville, Maryland. She has served on AJL’s Sydney Taylor Committee, and last year (2008) was a member of ALA’s Caldecott Committee. She is an independent book reviewer.