This beautifully illustrated graphic novel, appropriate for ages 9 – 12, is preceded by a haskamah (endorsement) from Rabbi Aharon David Neustadt and an historical overview by Rabbi Berel Wein. It is the first in a planned series about the life of Rabbi Shmuel Ha Nagid, a prominent Talmudic scholar as well as philosopher, poet, statesman and warrior. Volume 1 begins with Rabbi Shmuel’s flight from a massacre in Cordoba, Spain. The story continues with the rabbi’s life in Granada and his rise to a powerful governmental position, vizier to the king. Shmuel Ha Nagid: A Tale of the Golden Age is recommended for readers who are conversant in Hebrew or who are comfortable with terms commonly used in the study of the Torah and Talmud, since the text includes many Hebrew words and phrases, such as Bavel, Mesivta, chazal, matzliach, tseischem leshalom without giving their English translation. Although the story is interesting, it is confusing at times because the scenes switch time and place without warning. The costumes and places such as the Al Hambra are accurately and realistically drawn. This book is recommended for an Orthodox audience of ages 9 – 12.
Ilka Gordon has a Masters in Education from Boston University and an M.L.I.S. from Kent State University. She is a librarian at Siegal College of Judaic Studies in Cleveland.