In perfectly rhyming, rhythmic quartets and with remarkable color illustrations that evoke spectacular Israeli landscapes, Alice Blumenthal McGinty and Rotem Teplow express pride in Israel’s many accomplishments, joy in its beautiful scenery, admiration of its diverse population, and respectful recognition of its unique place in both reality and the imagination. The rhyming quartets, told from a child’s perspective, alternate with pithy prose paragraphs that describe Israel and guide young readers through its varied and fascinating features.
Bustling modern cities, ancient historic sites, and rural country locales are all appealingly described along with colorful marketplaces, innovative high-tech businesses, and spectacular landscapes. Ethiopian Jews and other Jews of color, nomadic Bedouins, traditional Jewish families of many kinds, and proud Arab-Israeli Muslims appear in these pages, drawing a variegated and realistic picture of Israel’s population, each group maintaining its own thriving culture but all joining together as proud Israeli citizens.
Israel is portrayed as a special place where biblical stories come alive, preservation of nature is given careful attention, and daily life is productive and meaningful. In a world in which much inconsistent, incorrect, and badly skewed information about Israel is easy to find, this lyrical-yet-realistic portrayal is a much-needed addition to the picture book genre. The poems, descriptions, and illustrations present an Israel recognizable to those who live there and know it well; a country of complexity that is both ultra-modern and ancient, innovative and spiritual, energetic and peaceful.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.