The Sto­ry of Queen Esther

Jen­ny Koralek; Grizel­da Hold­er­ness, illus.
  • Review
By – January 13, 2012
In this attrac­tive yet sim­pli­fied retelling of the Purim sto­ry, it is the rich­ly toned pas­tel illus­tra­tions that take cen­ter stage. Uti­liz­ing a palette of deep red, mid­night blue and gold, the Per­sian-influ­enced two-page spreads car­ry the famil­iar sto­ry for­ward with an exot­ic appeal. Yet, as with any old and oft-told sto­ry, the text reveals cer­tain lib­er­ties tak­en with famil­iar ele­ments of the tale that ulti­mate­ly deter­mine the intend­ed audi­ence. For exam­ple, the back-sto­ry that leads to Esther becom­ing queen is reduced to a sin­gle sen­tence refer­ring only to her beau­ty. Morde­cai, far from encour­ag­ing Esther in her quest to become queen (and to ulti­mate­ly save her peo­ple), is unhap­py when King Aha­suerus choos­es her for his wife. And once Haman’s evil decree to kill all the Jews is exposed and Haman is pun­ished, Morde­cai sim­ply tears up the order and all is well. While not seri­ous omis­sions, these edi­to­r­i­al choic­es lessen the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss cer­tain aspects of the sto­ry (i.e., the Jews fight­ing vic­to­ri­ous­ly for their sur­vival when the decree can­not be reversed). Thus, this ver­sion seems bet­ter suit­ed for younger chil­dren who will enjoy the bril­liant­ly col­ored illus­tra­tions, fear for the beau­ti­ful dark-haired Esther as she approach­es the King unin­vit­ed, and hiss at Haman when he is led off to the gal­lows built for Morde­cai. While not as thor­ough a telling as Dianne Wolkstein’s Esther’s Sto­ry (1991), this is a visu­al­ly appeal­ing ver­sion that will find its place amongst oth­ers in your col­lec­tion. Ages 5 – 8.
Teri Mark­son has been a children’s librar­i­an for over 18 years. She is cur­rent­ly the act­ing senior librar­i­an at the Val­ley Plaza Branch Library in North Hol­ly­wood, CA.

Discussion Questions