This beautiful, oversized picture book is the perfect way to discover the Hebrew alphabet for children just beginning to learn to recognize the sounds and symbols of the basic twenty-two symbols that make up the Alefbet. Inspired by an illustrated Haggadah by artist Arthur Szyk which he received from his grandparents at a young age, Rajic uses the medieval and renaissance tradition of rich and vibrant illuminations of manuscripts with a modern, contemporary twist that is whimsical and engaging. Each double spread page depicts an animal in a lovely nature setting whose name begins with the corresponding letter; a fun and delightful poem using alliteration accompanies each detailed painting and is helpful to beginning readers in learning the sounds that go with the letter. The name of the letter is also presented in boldface type on the left-hand side of the page with the Hebrew symbol to provide phonological awareness and highlighted by alluring, flowing borders. A complete chart of the whole Alefbet and a glossary of the Hebrew words at the end of the book aid in making this a valuable learning tool. The artist states in the introduction to the book, “that learning Hebrew, even at the most basic level, is possibly one of the most essential and unifying acts of becoming a member of the Jewish community” and has created a companion coloring book for free to download at www.cenozoicpress.com/titles.htm. This enchanting title would be a wonderful addition to all size Jewish collections and the perfect present for gift giving. For ages 6 and up.
Debra Gold has been a children’s librarian for over 20 years in the Cuyahoga County Public Library System. An active member of the ALA, she has served on many committees including the Caldecott, Newbery and Batchelder committees.