A Feath­er, a Peb­ble, a Shell

  • Review
By – May 7, 2024

In this book, the land of Israel comes alive through small, trea­sured objects found by a child. Mov­ing geo­graph­i­cal­ly from the North to the South (read­ers can trace the trip on a map includ­ed at the end), on land and in water, and up hills and down val­leys, author Miri Leshem-Pel­ly high­lights Israel’s diverse nat­ur­al terrain.

The explor­er fea­tured in this sto­ry tends to col­lect items small enough to fit in her hand, but when she is done inspect­ing them, she returns them to the spot where she found them; she does not take them home, but leaves them for the next explor­er to find and admire. These found trea­sures recall his­to­ry, the Bible, cli­mate, geol­o­gy, and the out­doors. They include feath­ers, fruits, shells, stones, ani­mals and birds. The child walks along trails in ani­mal habi­tats, clam­bers over caves and canyons, splash­es in rivers, and swims in seas, search­ing for old­er traces of Israel. The tone is calm, the art is serene and beau­ti­ful, and the chil­dren are hap­py and pur­pose­ful about being kind to the earth.

Leshem-Pelly’s mes­sage is direct and fac­tu­al: sci­ence edu­cates, nature amazes. This qui­et book show­cas­es Israel’s sur­pris­ing boun­ty of nat­ur­al wonders.

Ellen G. Cole, a retired librar­i­an of the Levine Library of Tem­ple Isa­iah in Los Ange­les, is a past judge of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards and a past chair­per­son of that com­mit­tee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excel­lence in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture. Ellen is the recip­i­ent of two major awards for con­tri­bu­tion to Juda­ic Librar­i­an­ship, the Fan­ny Gold­stein Mer­it Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroed­er Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. She is on the board of AJLSC.

Discussion Questions