This familiar retelling of the Purim story features the usual cast of characters. Ahasuerus, the clueless king, who is both cruel and benevolent, Haman, the king’s evil and power-hungry chief minister who tricks the king into agreeing to destroy the Jews, Mordecai, the devout Jew, who invites Haman’s wrath by refusing to acknowledge him as a living god, and the heroine of the story, Mordecai’s niece, Hadassah, known as Esther in Persian. Esther is so beautiful that she needs no kohl around her eyes or cinnabar on her lips. As soon as the king sees her, he chooses her for his queen. But Esther is most admired — and remembered — for her bravery. She risks her life when she dares to reveal Haman’s plot to the king, and on the appointed date of the Jews’ planned destruction, the 13th day of the month of Adar, Haman is vanquished instead. Jill Weber’s vibrant art includes many historical Persian references and motifs — from pomegranates to peacocks to paisley patterns — as well as Moorish arches and minarets, making it easy to imagine the ancient capital city of Shushan. But do not expect to see Haman wearing a three-cornered hat — apparently that is just a myth. For ages 4 – 8.
Eric Kimmel Reads “The Story of Esther”
Susan Kantor was a senior writer/editor for Girl Scouts of the USA, a children’s book editor, and a past judge for the National Jewish Book Awards in the illustrated children’s book category. She is a writer and a docent at the Rubin Museum in New York City, where she leads public and private tours.