Songs from the Garden of Eden is a collection of 28 songs and nursery rhymes from Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Yemenite, and Mizrahi sources. Ranging from Klezmer to Middle Eastern ululations the songs are varied in rhythm, tone, mood, and language. The book gives the songs in their original language, transliteration into English characters, and translation. An extensive notes section gives background information about the various Jewish communities as well as the history behind each of the songs or rhymes. The notes section alone makes this a valuable book to add to a Judaic collection. Although the book is beautifully illustrated with folk art/primitive style illustrations, it will probably appeal more to adults than to the picture book age child. (Print is small and dense on each page.) Some of the songs are difficult for young children of a different culture to understand, but that is precisely why such a book is valuable. Each song can be savored individually rather reading this book in one sitting. The delightful CD tucked into a pocket in the back of the book is professionally arranged, produced and performed, and will be of interest to all adults and children who enjoy superb, inspiring music. Book and CD. Ages 5 – adult.
Susan Dubin was the first librarian honored with a Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Award. She is the owner/director of Off-the-Shelf Library Services and library instructional consultant at Valley Beth Shalom Day School in Encino, CA.