The World Needs Beau­ti­ful Things

Leah Rachel Berkowitz; Daniele Fab­bri, illus.

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By – March 29, 2018

Beza­lel is a slave in Egypt. Although his life is harsh, he sees beau­ty every­where. To him, a feath­er, a smooth stone, and a piece of col­ored string are trea­sures to be cher­ished and stored in his Beau­ti­ful Things Box. When Pharaoh sud­den­ly allows the Israelites to go free, and they can only take what they can car­ry, Beza­lel refus­es to leave his Beau­ti­ful Things Box behind. While in the desert, God calls to Moses and orders that a spe­cial dwelling place, a mishkan, be built for Him. Moses has no idea where they will they find mate­ri­als to build a suit­able house for God — until Beza­lel emp­ties his Beau­ti­ful Things Box on the sand. God is so pleased that Beza­lel appre­ci­ates the beau­ty of sim­ple objects that He choos­es the young boy to design the mishkan.

Daniele Fab­bri, an award-win­ning illus­tra­tor, uses a painter­ly style and a palette of most­ly earth tones to imbue the illus­tra­tions with a charm­ing, fairy-tale qual­i­ty. A brief author’s note explains that a man named Beza­lel, who appears in the Book of Exo­dus, is cho­sen by God to design and build the mishkan, and is giv­en every skill he needs to do so.

Read­ers may also be inter­est­ed in read­ing A Queen in Jerusalem fea­tur­ing the Beza­lel Acad­e­my, a school of art which is named after this bib­li­cal character.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 5 to 9.

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.

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