The Book Of Secrets

  • Review
By – November 17, 2020

The Book of Secrets is a graph­ic nov­el that tells the sto­ry of Jew­ish sib­lings Ben and Rose whose miss­ing Bubbe and Grand­pa leave them a mys­te­ri­ous book. They start read­ing the book, each chap­ter telling them a dif­fer­ent sto­ry from tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish folk­lore. As they read more of the sto­ries, the char­ac­ters seem to come to life, help­ing them unrav­el the mys­ter­ies of the Book of Secrets — and where their grand­par­ents could be.

The Book of Secrets tells mul­ti­ple sto­ries simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, work­ing each fable into the larg­er nar­ra­tive. Each sto­ry teach­es Ben and Rose an impor­tant les­son; in the sto­ry of King Solomon, the moral is that even wise grown-ups can be some­times be wrong; the sto­ry of Og reminds them of the impor­tance of work­ing togeth­er to achieve a goal; the Lamplighter’s sto­ry edu­cates them about why life needs to encom­pass both light and darkness.

The art­work con­sists of dark­er shades of bright col­ors, as if to say that, while this is a fun chil­dren’s sto­ry, it car­ries some impor­tant themes. The style, par­tic­u­lar­ly the design of the tit­u­lar book, bears resem­blance to the pop­u­lar Dis­ney show Grav­i­ty Falls. The char­ac­ter illus­tra­tions, espe­cial­ly that of the Dough­lem (the Dough Golem), invite audi­ences of all ages to enjoy the pic­tures which, along with the nar­ra­tive, con­vey the sto­ries creatively.

The Book of Secrets is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed and a great way to teach mid­dle graders about Jew­ish cul­ture. It blends leg­end with con­tem­po­rary fan­ta­sy, star­ring young chil­dren as the heroes. This graph­ic book cel­e­brates Jew­ish her­itage with each sto­ry it tells, and encour­ages its read­ers to do the same.

Richard C. Kraus is a stu­dent at Sarah Lawrence Col­lege where he stud­ies writ­ing, film and the­atre and serves on the board of his college’s Hil­lel. A fan of tele­vi­sion, film, com­ic books and pop-cul­ture, he writes for www​.what​cul​ture​.com.

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