Even Higher

Even Higher

by Richard Ungar
     
 

Young Reuven has a problem. Every year, on the day before Rosh Hashanah, the beloved rabbi of the village of Nemirov disappears until nightfall and no one knows where he goes. The villagers suspect that he ascends to heaven to beg forgiveness for their sins, but Reuven’s friends want the truth. They appoint him to solve the mystery — after all, he is the… See more details below

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Overview

Young Reuven has a problem. Every year, on the day before Rosh Hashanah, the beloved rabbi of the village of Nemirov disappears until nightfall and no one knows where he goes. The villagers suspect that he ascends to heaven to beg forgiveness for their sins, but Reuven’s friends want the truth. They appoint him to solve the mystery — after all, he is the smallest and fastest of the group — but how?

That evening, when Reuven watches the rabbi through the synagogue window, he gets an idea. Determined to follow him at daybreak, Reuven is baffled as the rabbi, disguised as a simple woodcutter, passes the synagogue, the cheder, and Beryl the Baker’s house — his usual stops — only to enter the great forest. Where could the rabbi of Nemirov possibly be going?

Adapted from a beloved story by I.L. Peretz, Richard Ungar once again captures the joyous spirit of the Jewish folktale with lighthearted humor and a rich palette of colors as vibrant as the story he tells.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Rachel Captures the Moon:

“With dense, jewel-toned watercolors and colored-pencil illustrations, and characterizations and perspectives reminiscent of Chagall and other Jewish visual folklorists, Ungar swiftly and affectionately transports readers to a mythical, long-ago world.”
Publishers Weekly

“Ungar’s small black and white pictures give appealingly realistic vignettes of characters, while the brilliantly colored main pictures are exuberant celebrations of village life with a nod to Chagall. His text conveys the relish of the storyteller.”
Quill & Quire

“The plot of the story celebrates common sense, but the illustrations invoke a nighttime world of imagination, and the combination works beautifully.”
CCL

Children's Literature
The Rabbi is giving a lesson on charity. The highest level, he says, is when the recipient does not know who has given it. Then the story begins. Three schoolboys who look to be about twelve years old are determined to find out what their Rabbi does every year on the day before Rosh Hashanah. Rumor has it that he �ascends to heaven and spends the day there, pleading with the Master of the universe to forgive the sins of the people of Nemirov.� Could that be true? Impossible! Reuven, Yossel, and Menachem will discover the truth. Well, Reuven will do the actual spying, since he is smaller than the others, somewhat brighter, and more curious. Reuven stations himself inside the Rabbi�s house and spends the night there, and in the morning he sees the Rabbi, dressed like a common woodcutter, walk out of the village and deep into the forest. And then, just like a common woodcutter, the Rabbi spends the day cutting wood. When he has cut enough, he takes an armload of logs and walks even deeper into the forest to the house of Mottel the Tailor and his wife Shayna--but, Reuven realizes, Mottel passed away last year! The Rabbi knocks on the door, lets himself into the cold dark house, and starts a fire, telling Shayna that he will wait for payment until she has money. �When the Holy One provides you with money, you will pay me. And, just so that you will not miss seeing the money when it arrives, I will keep this fire lit for you.� Reuven, who heard everything, races back to Nemirov where he is met by his friends. �Is it true?� they ask. �Did the Rabbi ascend to heaven?� Reuven softly says �Even higher.� This is a wonderful retelling of a famous story, beautifully-illustrated in Chagall-typepastels. I highly recommend it. My only complaint is that some of the colors--orange and brown, especially--interfere with the readability of the text, which is white, too small and too fine. Adapted from a story by I.L. Peretz. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
School Library Journal

Gr 1-4
The boys of Nemirov are curious as to where their esteemed rabbi goes each year on the day before Rosh Hashanah. Rumor has it that he ascends to heaven to beg God to forgive the sins of the villagers, but Yossel, Menachem, and Reuven are skeptical and the bigger boys agree that Reuven should find out exactly what the rabbi is up to. He secretly follows him home, hides under his bed, and trails him the next day. Discovering that the man, disguised as a woodcutter, ventures into the forest to chop wood and deliver it to a poor widow, the boy reports back to his friends that not only does the rabbi ascend to heaven, but he ascends "even higher." Adapted from I. L. Peretz's "If Not Higher," Ungar's version is more accessible to children and holds more appeal, yet still maintains the sophisticated message that may require adult explanation and guided discussion. The richly textured illustrations, in watercolor with colored pencil, provide readers with a sense of eastern European shtetl life. Unfortunately, the small white font often blends into the paintings, making it difficult to read. Jewish libraries, and those with large folktale collections, will want to consider this new retelling of a classic tale.
—Rachel KaminCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887767586
Publisher:
Tundra
Publication date:
08/14/2007
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
19.60(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

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