Songs from the Gar­den of Eden: Jew­ish Lul­la­bies and Nurs­ery Rhymes

Nathalie Sous­sana, song col­lec­tion; Beat­rice Ale­magna, illus.
  • Review
By – November 2, 2011
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.

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