Although the title and the eye-catching jacket may indicate otherwise, Ross (Sarah, Also Known as Hannah) directs her collection of profiles to a Jewish audience, with the Bible explicitly defined as a "3,500-year-old library of Hebrew documents." Claiming to find few references in the Bible, the author turns to the Talmud and the Apocrypha to enrich tales of women whose heroism and wisdom influenced the course of Jewish history. Unfortunately, a formulaic expository style afflicts the writing. The story of Esther, for example, begins, "`I am alone,' five-year-old Hadassah sobbed at her father's funeral.... She shivered as the chilling rain fell on her bowed head." Although readers may already be familiar with some of the well-known figures included here, such as Miriam and Esther, this book may be of interest for its attention to the less famous. Ross describes the prophetess Huldah covertly teaching the Torah to the young king of Judah, Josiah, whose father and grandfather forsook "the True Religion"; and the daughters of Zelophehad securing the rights of brotherless daughters to inherit their father's goods. Debut illustrator Teis contributes mixed-media collage compositions, borders and decorations. Her colors and patterns suggest biblical times, and taken singly, most of her works are graceful. Yet the profusion of design elements and patterns on each spread often makes the pages look busy and reduces the impact of the individual components. Ages 8-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
In her introduction, Ross says she set out to imagine the feelings and actions of the biblical women portrayed in this book. The goal was met admirably. The reader feels Miriam's sorrow when her baby brother Moses goes to live in the palace; Zipporah's joy at her wedding to Moses; Abigail's disgust at the drunkenness of her husband, Nabal. The first three chapters are intertwined, recalling the early life of Moses through the eyes of his sister, Miriam, and his wife, Zipporah. Later chapters depict individual heroines such as Ruth, Judith, and Esther. With empathy, Ross portrays a biblical woman's role in patriarchal society. For example, Abigail, Ruth, and Esther are forced to marry men against their wishes. Yet they manage to reclaim control of their lives through courage, faith, and a loving nature. Elegant, often haunting illustrations created with acrylic paint and collage paper bring each story to vivid life. The pages are gracefully bordered with earth tone designs. A full bibliography, including page numbers, provides all that is needed to check these imagined biographies against original sources. Visually and textually, this is an impressive package. 2000, Barefoot Books, Ages 10 up, $19.99. Reviewer: Jackie Hechtkopf
Gr 4-6-Ross has expanded the stories of Old Testament women such as Miriam, Ruth, and Esther, and included such lesser-known figures as Moses's wife Zipporah and the daughters of Zelophehad, who rate only a paragraph in the Bible. Each selection opens with a brief introduction that covers the history and political climate of the times. The information is mostly accurate, and the goal of introducing children to these women is admirable. Unfortunately, the language used in some of the introductions is so convoluted as to be incomprehensible, and the author's depictions of certain women are modernized to the point that they completely lose the flavor of the times. The retellings are rather simplistic and colorless, as if geared to younger readers, yet Ross includes stories and ideas that seem better suited to an older audience. Teis's use of collage and paint to add decorative borders and illustrate certain scenes is very effective and for the most part the artwork is lovely, although it is a bit unrealistic in places (Moses looks overly clean and healthy for having been wandering in the desert). As a whole, though, the book never quite overcomes its uninspired language.- Amy Lilien-Harper, Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Ross strives to re-tell the stories of some of the women of the Bible (the Old Testament, for Christians) in an accessible voice. Each of the nine chapters begins with a brief introduction setting the stage for the story, and then each focuses on a particular woman. Miriam figures twice, as sister to the baby Moses and to Moses the leader; Moses's wife Zipporah, the five daughters of Zelophehad, Ruth, Abigail, Huldah, Judith, and Esther are included. There's much dialogue, which occasionally falters into melodrama, but these are dramatic and powerful stories. The illustrations use a number of ancient motifs in borders and tailpieces; while the full-page images try for liveliness; sometimes they reflect a kind of creeping Disney-fication, resembling characters in those historical or folkloric animations. Different in focus but stronger in overall effect are Milton Meltzer's Ten Queens and Miriam Chaikin's Clouds of Glory. (bibliography, glossary) (Bible stories. 10-14)