Daughters of Fire: Heroines of the Bible

Daughters of Fire: Heroines of the Bible

by Fran Manushkin, Uri Shulevitz

Biblical stories of valorous women--from Eve to Yael--have helped shape the human character and spirit. Rarely, though, has the essence of these heroines been revealed as poignantly as it is in Daughters of Fire.
Fran Manushkin’s sensitive retellings of stories from the Bible and Jewish tradition portray strength and honor, but also jealousy and


Biblical stories of valorous women--from Eve to Yael--have helped shape the human character and spirit. Rarely, though, has the essence of these heroines been revealed as poignantly as it is in Daughters of Fire.
Fran Manushkin’s sensitive retellings of stories from the Bible and Jewish tradition portray strength and honor, but also jealousy and fear, and Caldecott Medalist Uri Shulevitz’s heroic illustrations highlight the bold, passionate essence of each woman and her world. The result is a collection of tales with heroines who are, above all, human.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Manushkin (Miriam's Cup: A Passover Story)brings to the women of the Hebrew Bible the richness and complexity of the wider Jewish traditions preserved in the Talmud, Midrash and other sources. From Eve to Esther, these heroines demonstrate not so much a sense of girl power or feminism in the contemporary sense, but rather an often fierce combination of courage, passion, faith and human frailty.These women shine with the grace of God yet also manifest flashes of anger, jealousy,deceit or doubt. Readers will respond not only to these powerful characterizations but to the enhanced details of the storytelling. Here, for example, Adam is created with two faces,"female on one side, and male on the other.When God realizes that Adam needs a mate, he removes one of Adam's sides and fashions Eve. Later, God chastises Adam for blaming Eve after he eats the forbidden fruit. The author skillfully links the majority of her stories via characters and settings, allowing them to flow smoothly as one large, colorful history. Caldecott Medalist Shulevitz (The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship) contributes a series of elegant, jewel-toned full-page illustrations, as well as spot art. In mixed-media compositions (he uses watercolor, pen-and-ink, and what appears to be woodblock printing), his figures seem softer-edged than usual, and the focus more diffused. His art, like the storytelling, startles the audience into fresh insights and appreciation. All ages.
Children's Literature
This attractive book begins with the story of Eve in a retelling that portrays the first woman as someone who always "remembered the glories of Eden" and was blessed by her time there. Sarah was said to be so beautiful, she resembled Eve. Sarah refused other suitors in favor of the burly but tender-hearted Abraham. In her old age, Sarah's youth was restored and she gave birth to Isaac, who married a gentle and generous girl named Rebecca. In chronological order, ten stories present familiar biblical tales from a female perspective. Skillfully intertwining biblical sources, legend and her own interpretations, Manushkin fleshes her heroines with intriguing details. For example, Leah has weakened eyes because of the bitter tears she cried to extract herself from an arranged marriage with Esau. These stories present the women of the Bible as fully formed individuals who young women can identify with and model. While similar to Daughters of Eve by Lillian Hammer Ross (Barefoot Books, 2000), there are enough differences that libraries will want to own both. Uri Shulevitz's elegant, mixed media illustrations make this book a lovely gift, especially for a Bat Mitzvah. An afterword explains Jewish traditions related to biblical stories. 2001, Silver Whistle/Harcourt, $20.00. Ages 8 to 14. Reviewer:Jackie Hechtkopf
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Women of the Bible have been the theme of several books in the past few years, and this is one of the best. Manushkin includes the stories of many of the expected personages, such as Eve, Sarah, and Ruth, as well as some lesser-known ones-Hannah, Deborah, and Yael-and even the women of the Exodus and of the Wilderness. The author's lyrical, slightly old-fashioned writing fits her topic. She avoids modern expressions that would be intrusive to the subject matter, and her choice of stories is quite successful. The color illustrations, done in a mixed media that includes painting and collage, are a bit strange at times; for example, Adam is almost animalistic looking, and the eyes of several figures are so darkly outlined as to be almost disturbing. However, at their best the pictures extend the text well, and at their worst they do not overly detract from it. Altogether, this is a worthwhile work on a topic that is in high demand but not always as successfully presented.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Manushkin floridly retells ten stories about women from the Hebrew Bible, all which will be well known to those who attend religious schools where Biblical stories are told. Although most chapters deal with individuals, Eve, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, etc., she devotes two chapters to "The Women of the Exodus," including Moses's mother, and "The Women in the Wilderness," with the incident of the golden calf. But Hebrew Bible in an English translation should be an example of plain language with certain poetic forms and repetitions meant originally to be transmitted orally. So, when the reteller reduces a perfect line, e.g., "Entreat me not to leave thee . . . " into, "Do not entreat me to leave you . . . " simplicity and clarity are lost, replaced by awkwardness and wordiness. Too often the exclamation point is used to convey excitement and danger, rather than verbs to carry the emotion. Alas, although the book is about the matriarchs, the patriarchs, by and large, still set the stage and are more centrally involved in the drama. Shulevitz (What Is a Wise Bird Like You Doing in a Silly Tale Like This?, 2000, etc.), who continues to experiment with style and media, uses mixed media and creates tactile, textured settings that convey time and place. Settings are striking, but human figures are sometimes strange, especially in profile. When Biblical stories are wanted for oral presentation, these will do and the full-page art carries. But-be warned, the wordy embellishments tend to distract from these ancient stories and histories, which is really too bad in such a lush book. (introduction, afterword, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 10.50(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

FRAN MANUSHKIN is the author of several picture books, including The Matzah That Papa Brought Home. She lives in New York City.

URI SHULEVITZ has written and illustrated many beloved books for children, including The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, which won the Caldecott Medal. Mr. Shulevitz lives in New York.

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