The Story of Queen Esther

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Koralek (The Coat of Many Colors ) and Holderness (When the World Began ) play a little fast and loose with the details of the Book of Esther: the reason for Esther's recruitment as a royal bride is omitted (no Vashti, the queen who is banished for refusing to dance for the drunken king); Ahasuerus, the clueless potentate, is transformed into a Persian hottie, complete with wavy hair and soulful, sensitive eyes (the center spread, with Esther and the king embracing, is worthy of a romance novel cover); and Esther has gained a devoted pet cheetah. More shockingly, Mordecai and Esther are shown praying on their knees, against Jewish tradition. But while the result is more fairy tale than kosher for Purim, Koralek's telling is admirably brisk and dramatic, and she keeps sight of the core message: that Esther's faith and sense of responsibility give her the courage to do the right thing. Holderness's saturated, jewel-tone pastels, geometric lines and subtle patterning successfully meld once-upon-a-time with an exotic Far East. She also gives Esther star-studded raven tresses that reach all the way down to her calves-which, as any female member of the target audience will attest, is totally awesome. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)

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Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
A powerful Persian king decides to get a wife and chooses Esther, a beautiful Jewish orphan. Esther has been living with her cousin, faithful Mordecai. Mordecai warns Esther not to reveal that she is Jewish, due to the danger that might befall her from enemies of Jews within the palace. On the night of the wedding, Mordecai saves the king's life, and this is written in the Book of Records. The king's most powerful advisor, Haman, hates Mordecai and wants to kill him with all the Jews. Mordecai urges Esther to warn the king in spite of peril to her life; the king's great love for her saves her as well as Esther's people. Haman is hanged for his betrayal towards Mordecai. The bold, vivid illustrations compliment this story well in spite of some of the drawings being a bit melodramatic. Unfortunately, Esther's bravery and significance in Jewish history gets a bit lost. The illustrations and romantic slant of this picture book may appeal to early elementary girls, and the story's drama might make for a good read-aloud. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
In this version of the Biblical tale of Esther, King Ahasueris chooses from the beautiful girls of his kingdom the most beautiful to be his wife. Esther is warned by her cousin Mordecai not to tell anyone that she is a Jew because Jews have many enemies in the palace. After the grand wedding, Mordecai saves the king's life by warning Esther of a plot against him. The king's advisor, his Grand Vizier Haman, wants everyone to bow low to him. But Mordecai bows only to God. So Haman gets the king to agree to get rid of the Jews. Mordecai begs Esther to ask the king for mercy but she fears to confront him. After fasting and prayer, Esther manages to stop Haman's plans and save the Jews. Every year on the feast of Purim, Jews dance and celebrate Queen Esther. Pastel drawings create stylized characters in exotic clothing with bits of architecture suggesting Biblical times. The visual tale is told episodically in theatrical scenes with few details across double pages. Symbolism rather than naturalism evokes the strong emotions of the events. A celebration is danced across the end pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Gr 2-5

This is a serviceable retelling of the biblical story of the Jewish queen of ancient Persia who saved her people from the plotting of the king's evil vizier, Haman. The events in the original tale are rather convoluted; while they are streamlined here, the story remains somewhat disjointed. The characters play their traditional roles without much development, and an atmosphere of solemnity pervades the story. The Jewish holiday of Purim, which commemorates the story of Queen Esther, is mentioned on the final spread without further explanation. The illustrations are the highlight of the book. Stylized, dreamy pastel spreads sing with deep color. Esther, whose name means "star," is portrayed with a moon and stars floating in her long dark hair, emphasizing her otherworldly beauty. The dignified pictures support the solemn tone of the text. While Rita Golden Gelman's Queen Esther Saves Her People (Scholastic, 1998) and Mordicai Gerstein's Queen Esther the Morning Star (S & S, 2000) offer more humor and character development, and slightly more coherent storytelling, this version will be a welcome addition.-Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL

Kirkus Reviews
When the powerful king of Persia, Ahasuerus, decides to take a wife, he chooses the beautiful Esther. Esther hides her Jewish identity on the advice of her cousin, Mordecai, who claims that many in the palace "hate Jews because we were once their enemies." The villainous Haman, Grand Vizier to the King, is angered by Mordecai, who refuses to bow before anyone but God. Haman's revenge is to convince the King to order all Jews killed. Esther then bravely intervenes, risking her own demise, to save her people. The classic biblical story, commemorated each year with the Jewish holiday of Purim and the reading of the Megillah (the Book of Esther), is told with lucid intrigue, painting a picture of an evil rogue outwitted by the wisdom and courage of a loving Queen. Multiple scenes across full-page spreads, done in deep pastel colors of blues, purples and reds, portray an assortment of tall, handsome characters with lean, pointy-chinned faces, long, flowing hair and dark skin. A well-composed and aesthetic interpretation for the younger set. (Picture book/religion. 3-5)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802853486
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Pages: 28
  • Sales rank: 1,428,212
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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