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The biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors is widely known, but less so is the tale of how Joseph's family was finally reunited through Benjamin, his youngest brother. It's a story of intrigue, as the older brothers hid their past crime of selling Joseph into Egyptian slavery, and Joseph (now a powerful Egyptian governor) framed Benjamin as a thief to see how his brothers reacted (would they protect or forsake him?). Benjamin's point of view is the focus here, and his youthful, open-hearted responses to his adventures help to clarify the story's murky motivations for young readers. In the denouement, Benjamin realized that "he would always be safe" with his reunited brothers, making for an emotionally satisfying conclusion. The writing is elegantly simple. Full-color spreads give a sense of the Middle Eastern landscape, and the artist makes each of the 12 brothers a distinct individual. The faces are expressive, and Benjamin, in particular, appears lovably innocent. A fine introduction to the biblical tale for young readers, with a strong message about the importance of forgiveness and family.-Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Posted May 11, 2009
Benjamin and the Silver Goblet is a genuinely enjoyable retelling of a familiar story from the Scriptures. Benjamin is Jacob's youngest son who resents that he is being treated as a baby and left behind as his older brothers leave for Egypt to buy grain. However, his father has already lost one son, Joseph, and will not risk losing another one. Yet, when the brothers return from Egypt, Simeon is not with them. Reuben explains that the governor of Egypt had accused them of being spies and kept Simeon, demanding that they bring Benjamin when they come back to prove that they were telling the truth. When the time comes, they have no choice but to take Benjamin, and Judah promises their father to see that nothing happens to him.
On the way, Benjamin accidentally overhears the brothers conversation about what they had done to Joseph. He had always been told that Joseph was killed by a wild animal. Benjamin is shocked and wonders if he can ever trust his brothers again. Then, when they arrive in Egypt, the governor does some strange things that puzzle Benjamin and his brothers, but they are finally able to leave with their grain and with Simeon. However, after they have departed, a messenger comes from the governor and demands that they be searched to see if anyone has a silver goblet that has been stolen from the governor. Benjamin gasps as the goblet is found in his sack. They are taken back to Egypt where the governor demands that Benjamin remain as a slave while the others go home. What will happen to Benjamin? Will his brothers help him or just leave him there?
Anyone who has read the Scriptures knows the end of the story. Author Jacqueline Jules says that she has always been fascinated by Joseph's test of the silver goblet to see if his brothers would abandon Benjamin in the same callous way that they had sold him years before or if they had changed. She tried to stay as faithful as she could to the original plot, but referred to traditional sources for some details and flavor. A book like this is an excellent choice to help youngsters understand the great stories of the Scriptures. Picturing the situation from Benjamin's point of view and imagining the feelings of this boy in the center of a drama that he did not quite understand help to make things real for children, and Natascia Ugliano's full-color illustrations help them visualize the action. This tale is a wonderful example of remorse for past mistakes and the love of a reunited family. I highly recommend the book.
Posted February 25, 2010
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