A Snake, a Flood, a Hid­den Baby: Bible Sto­ries for Children

Meir Shalev, Ilana Kur­shan (Trans­la­tor), Emanuele Luz­za­ti (Illus­tra­tor)

  • Review
By – August 31, 2021

Acclaimed Israeli author Meir Shalev (who writes books for both adults and chil­dren) turns his con­sid­er­able tal­ents to ensur­ing that this col­lec­tion of Bible sto­ries appeals to chil­dren. As he writes in a note at the front of the book, Imag­ine that some of you think that Bible sto­ries are just what you learn in school and in syn­a­gogue. But if so, you are miss­ing out.”

Shalev then pro­ceeds to share six of his favorite sto­ries: the Gar­den of Eden, Noah’s Ark, the Tow­er of Babel, Abra­ham and Sarah, Joseph and his Broth­ers, and Moses in the Riv­er. Shalev presents them in a straight­for­ward, con­ver­sa­tion­al, acces­si­ble-to-all nar­ra­tion. God espe­cial­ly is acces­si­ble here —inti­mate rather than intim­i­dat­ing, prone to being weary and frus­trat­ed, and some­times even sur­prised by his cre­ation. At one point, as the Tow­er of Babel grows high­er and high­er into the heav­ens, God tells his angels, I’m start­ing to think that [humans are] capa­ble of quite a lot.” This is def­i­nite­ly a God with a per­son­al­i­ty young chil­dren will understand.

Luz­za­ti’s illus­tra­tions are absolute­ly won­der­ful and deserve spe­cial atten­tion. The pic­tures are rich­ly col­ored and tex­tured as well as full of action and humor. They depict humans in all their flawed and famil­iar glo­ry, show­ing both their strengths and fol­lies. God’s love for these humans is cer­tain. The art is per­fect­ly suit­ed to the young audience.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, not everyone’s favorite Bible sto­ries could have been includ­ed in this high­ly rec­om­mend­ed col­lec­tion that def­i­nite­ly leaves the read­er want­i­ng more. Still, at the close of the Joseph chap­ter, which ends with Joseph’s sale to the Mid­i­an­ites (and does­n’t fin­ish the long arc of Joseph’s sto­ry), Shalev writes, But that is anoth­er sto­ry, for anoth­er time.” Per­haps that means we can look for­ward to a sec­ond volume.

Leslie Kim­mel­man grew up out­side Philadel­phia and grad­u­at­ed from Mid­dle­bury Col­lege in Ver­mont. She is the author of many children’s books, awards for which include Best Children’s Books of the Year from the Bank Street Col­lege of Edu­ca­tion; Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Stud­ies; and Syd­ney Tay­lor Notable Books. Kim­mel­man is an edi­tor at Sesame Work­shop and lives with her fam­i­ly just north of New York City.

Discussion Questions