(April 1, 2004; 0-439-35225-8)
Gr. 2-4, younger for reading aloud. The story of Moses gets a handsome treatment from Beneduce and her sometime artistic partner, Spirin. The tale is a familiar one, with most of the action coming as Moses brings his demands for freedom to the pharaoh. The text bogs down a bit as it tries to find ways to make the monarch's denials seem fresh, but the story's inherent drama gets its just due here, and is heightened by Spirin's awe-inspiring pencil-and-watercolor artwork. Although not gilded, many of the pictures have the look and feel of illumination. Moses is beautifully portrayed, strong even when his hair is white. There are also some amazing pictures that will demand second and third looks, especially the full-page painting of Aaron's snake devouring the snakes of the pharaoh. A few liberties have been taken with the story (e.g., the explanation of why Moses is put in the bulrushes), but this is a particularly attractive offering for libraries wanting to build up their religion shelves. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist
School Library Journal
(March 1, 2004; 0-439-35225-8)
Gr 3-5-Spirin's enthralling pencil-and-watercolor illustrations give the familiar Exodus story a rich and exotic look. The jacket itself wraps the climactic, panoramic Red Sea escape around the book. Inside, the adult Moses, resplendent in a cloudlike white robe, borrows grandeur from Michelangelo and sweetness from St. Nick. Egyptian art influences everything from the monumental architecture to the Nile flowers to Pharaoh's chair and golden sandals. Glorious temples, in close detail and distant elevation, displace boring pyramids. The angel in the burning bush sports jeweled, multihued wings. Dramatic changes in scale increase the visual excitement. However, the text is merely adequate. Flat diction ("But this is a very difficult task!' protested Moses"), wordiness, and the passive voice drain drama from the story. When Pharaoh's daughter spots the baby, she says, improbably, "I'll name him Moses, meaning drawn from the water.'" Without a map, the sentence "They went across the Egyptian border to Succoth, and from there to Etham and Baal-Zephon" is confusing, since it offers no answer to the natural question-if they haven't reached the Red Sea yet, aren't they still in Egypt? Leonard Everett Fisher's Moses (Holiday, 1995), with map, bibliography, and genealogy, vigorously retells more of the story.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
(January 26, 2004; 0-439-35225-8)
As his many admirers will anticipate, Spirin's extraordinary art is the raison d'ˆtre of this stately looking volume. Although Beneduce (previously paired with Spirin for Philipok) writes smoothly, her text presumes familiarity with the subject (for example, it starts as Moses's mother, without any explanation, sends the baby down the Nile in a basket), but it also skirts the difficult questions. This Moses doesn't kill any Egyptians in his youth (he strikes down a guard, which displeases the pharaoh), and this God doesn't harden the pharaoh's heart. Although Beneduce enumerates the plagues in all their miseries, the exchanges aren't quite so lusty: "Now, won't you agree to let my people go?" Moses enquires of the pharaoh. But Spirin continues to outdo himself with his pencil and watercolor illustrations. He combines Western European painterly traditions with a hint of Egyptian composition. For example, in a scene of the pharaoh's daughter discovering the infant Moses, the princess and maidens are all shown in profile, on a nearly flat plane, but rendered in exquisite detail, from the folds of their diaphanous gowns to the gems in their headpieces. Framing an extract from Exodus are tiny scenes of Moses's and Aaron's visits to the pharaoh, a treatment one migh