The Sto­ry of Ruth

Max­ine Rose Schur; Gwen Con­nel­ly, illus.
  • Review
By – August 6, 2012
Until this year, there has been a short­age of sto­ries about Ruth for preschool and pri­ma­ry grade chil­dren. Jean Marzollo’s Ruth and Nao­mi (Lit­tle Brown, 2005) is sim­pler and for slight­ly younger chil­dren than this more com­plete and more seri­ous retelling of the bib­li­cal Book of Ruth by the award-win­ning author, Max­ine Rose Schur. It begins with the jour­ney of Elim­elech and his fam­i­ly to Moab to escape famine in Judea and con­tin­ues through the deaths of Naomi’s hus­band and sons to the piv­otal point of the sto­ry when Nao­mi decides to return to her own land and Ruth makes her famous vow: “…wher­ev­er you go, I will go. Wher­ev­er you stay, I will stay. Your peo­ple shall be my peo­ple, and your god, my God.” Depart­ing from the bib­li­cal theme of chesed (lov­ingkind­ness), the strength of the two women, one young, one old, is empha­sized as Ruth gleans in Boaz’s fields and Nao­mi arranges their mar­riage. The final words of the book are: It is the sto­ry of Ruth and of Nao­mi who were blessed with the courage, the wis­dom, and the might of women.” The pedes­tri­an illus­tra­tions do not sup­port this theme, unfor­tu­nate­ly. The stiff­ness and lack of vig­or of the illus­trat­ed char­ac­ters are not mit­i­gat­ed by Schur’s usu­al writ­ing skills; here, the nar­ra­tive style is ordi­nary, lack­ing dra­ma or lyri­cism. Nei­ther phys­i­cal nor spir­i­tu­al strength is appar­ent, despite the author’s intent. A need­ed but dis­ap­point­ing book. For ages 6 – 8.
Lin­da R. Sil­ver is a spe­cial­ist in Jew­ish children’s lit­er­a­ture. She is edi­tor of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries’ Jew­ish Val­ues­find­er, www​.ajl​jew​ish​val​ues​.org, and author of Best Jew­ish Books for Chil­dren and Teens: A JPS Guide (The Jew­ish Pub­li­ca­tion Soci­ety, 2010) and The Jew­ish Val­ues Find­er: A Guide to Val­ues in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture (Neal-Schu­man, 2008).

Discussion Questions