Koren Publishers has released a new graphic novel series that makes the Bible accessible to those who have been unable or reluctant to learn by traditional methods, as well as to children who are learning the story for the first time. Full of detail, color, and nuance, this volume recounts Esther’s story, which is traditionally read during Purim. The artistic form is totally appropriate for a complex, exciting tale that is rich in characterization and plot.
The vivid panels perfectly encapsulate the ornate palace of King Achashverosh in all his rotund resplendence; Vashti’s fury at being peremptorily summoned to his feast; Esther’s quiet beauty and courage when she realizes that she can save the Jews from death and destruction; Mordechai’s steadfast faith and wisdom as he guides Esther along; and Haman’s cruel machinations and infamous villainy. The characters’ facial expressions help bring the story to life. Immersed in action and intrigue, the reader gets a sense of royal life in ancient Persia.
The Hebrew text of the Megillah appears on the pages opposite the graphic art. The text is preceded and followed by the traditional blessings, which are recited aloud at the start and the conclusion of the public reading. The book can be used to follow along during synagogue service, but is even more useful for those who wish to get to know the story in advance.
This is a creative, fun, and approachable way to learn about the events behind the celebration of Purim. And for those who are already familiar with the material, it presents a fresh, unique spin.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.