Zalben (Paths to Peace) offers a creation story inspired by a 16th-century midrash ("a legend based on biblical text," she explains in her author's note) told by the kabbalist rabbi Isaac Luria. In this pulsing-with-energy version, the Creator made the world and all its flora and fauna but, "as a finishing touch," the Creator aims to paint everything with a special, extremely powerful light that is stored in a jar. But the plan goes awry when the jar shatters into shards and sparks of light scatter far and wide. The Creator makes people to help search for the shards-finding the light in every living thing and in themselves-and eventually make the world whole again. Zalben's take on this tale can be read as a metaphor for healing our troubled earth. In a note about her sweeping mixed-media illustrations she discusses imagery and technique (she uses crayon, acrylics, oils and even a bit of Windex on rough canvas). But even without any explanation, young readers will find plenty to pore over in the arresting spreads. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Lightby Jane Breskin Zalben, Jane Breskin Zalben (Illustrator)
In the beginning there was emptiness, like a blank canvas. Then, in a swirl of motion, the Creator made the world. The Creator wanted to finish everything with a special kind of light�a light so powerful it had to be stored away from sight. When the Creator tried to open the jar of light, it shattered, and sparks of light flew everywhere. With flowing paintings and intricate collages made with unusual and varied materials, Jane Breskin Zalben brings to life this timeless legend about why people were created: to find the light and repair the world.
Zalben's tale was inspired by a 16th-century midrash (a legend based on biblical text). Beginning with "emptiness, like a blank canvas," the Creator made the world and then planned to paint everything with a special light so that it would shine with goodness. The vessel in which the light was stored broke accidentally, sparks were scattered, and humans were created for the task of gathering the shards to make the world "complete and perfect," a project that has yet to be finished. The illustrations were created through mixed-media experimentation and the result is pretty but somewhat jumbled, combining static, detailed figures with dynamic, abstract forms, giving the story a somewhat stumbling pace. The text is rather vague and unfocused; this may be seen as part of its mystical charm, but it detracts from the empowering message inherent in the legend, that we are all part of the solution to the world's problems. There are few children's books that directly address the Jewish concept of tikkun olam ("repairing the world"), and this one has the advantage of being told in a universal way that will appeal to all faiths. While not completely successful in conveying its message of peace, this title does highlight important concepts and would make an excellent discussion starter.-Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Meet the Author
Jane Breskin Zalben is the author-illustrator of Paths to Peace and many other books. She lives in Sands Point, New York.
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