In the Jerusalem Forest 

Devo­ra Bush­eri (auth.), Noa Kel­ner (illus.)

  • Review
By – October 15, 2019

Based on the poem, The Pond,” by clas­sic Hebrew poet Hay­im Nach­man Bia­lik, this peace­ful pic­ture book fol­lows a young girl and her moth­er as they walk togeth­er through the Jerusalem for­est and gaze at their reflec­tions in a pond. The trees and the sky, reflect­ed in the water, seem upside-down to the sen­si­tive, per­cep­tive girl, giv­ing her and the read­er the sense that per­spec­tive can be vari­able and chang­ing; every­thing can be what it seems to be while also expand­ing the mind with an appre­ci­a­tion of greater possibilities. 

Bia­lik, often called Israel’s nation­al poet,” was born in Rus­sia and, late in life, relo­cat­ed to Israel before it was a state. His poems were writ­ten in Yid­dish but pri­mar­i­ly in Hebrew, and were often about Jew­ish his­to­ry and Zion­ist aspi­ra­tions. His love for the land of Israel is reflect­ed in his lyri­cal poems about nature, some of which were writ­ten for chil­dren. The Pond,” writ­ten between the years 1904 and 1905, is a com­plex and nuanced ode to nature, intro­spec­tive thought, and Jew­ish phi­los­o­phy. It inspired Devo­ra Busheri’s cap­ti­vat­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing pic­ture book which is decep­tive­ly sim­ple and sub­tly con­veys a sense of Bialik’s thoughts and expres­sive language. 

Illus­tra­tor Noa Kel­ner paints the for­est as a place of mys­tery and peace, a per­fect set­ting for reflec­tion and qui­et joy. The moth­er and child react to the scenery all around them and the view­er is as much a part of the land­scape as the land­scape is part of the view­er. The art and text meld into a seam­less whole. 

This book is a love­ly homage to poet­ic imagery, nature, and the bond between par­ent and child. 

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.

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