Gr 2–5—Eight examples of environmentalism in the Hebrew Bible are highlighted with eco-conscious retellings of the tales and follow-up activities (crafts and science experiments). Noah's Ark is seen as an example of biodiversity, Joshua uses the destructive power of noise pollution to bring down the walls of Jericho, and so on. Warm paintings in earth tones decorate the pages. While environmentalist thinking does exist in the Bible, these retellings give ancient characters coyly modern voices and unrealistic ecological awareness, as when Moses says, "God has given us this [oasis], but it's up to us to learn how to properly manage our water resources." The concise text provides little context and assumes familiarity with the original stories. Likewise, the follow-up activities often lack context, as in the biodiversity exercise that asks readers to observe whether zoo animals graze or are given only animal feed, without explaining why this matters. Craft instructions vary from precise to vague. The tone of the book is preachy and overly earnest. Science teachers in religious day schools may find this title a good source of biblical tie-ins and ecological activities, but independent readers may find it slow-going.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
This unique take on Bible stories from the Old Testament cherry picks the tales that emphasize environmental responsibility. From Noah and the flood, through Joseph's prophesy of the famine, to Moses' instruction from God for a Shmita year (a fallow year) to preserve the quality of the soil and allow for regeneration, Lehman-Wilzig offers many examples of the sensible ways in which the early Israelites practiced ecological common sense. The stories are retold in very colloquial, two page abridgements. The puns fly freely: God was "flooded" with ideas before he instructed Noah to build the ark. However, the real selling point of this book may be the crafts and observational projects it suggests, such as creating a collage of cows in a field to illustrate to students the concept of "carrying capacity" of the land, or planting tangerine seeds over a few weeks in the same containers to show how the last planted may not fare as well as the first planted. There are many field trip ideas, such as visiting a zoo and talking to the keepers about how animals are paired in captivity, that will lend themselves especially well to Bible-based home school curricula. The illustrations are best in the depictions of Biblical stories. Projects are not given step-by-step illustrations, although the steps are well-explained. Overall, this is a solid addition to environmental collections and science project shelves, and should have special significance in its ties to the holiday cycle of the Jewish year. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
An environmental theme unites nine Jewish bible stories enhanced with a variety of science and nature activities.
The religiously focused narrative begins by stating that God's "perfectly planned planet" has been misused by humankind. Biblical figures such as Noah, Abraham, Joshua, Joseph and Moses demonstrate how the Bible is filled with ways to preserve and respect the earth. From Noah's Ark and the flood, illustrating the beauty of the planet's biodiversity, to Joshua's need for sunlight to successfully defend the people of Gibeon with solar power, each scene is connected to a contemporary interpretation through introductory paragraphs and child-oriented projects. For example, noise pollution is addressed through the story of how Joshua destroyed Jericho first by surrounding the city walls with silence and then by using the loud trumpet blasts to crack the ramparts reinforcing the walls. This is followed by a simple science experiment that will observe whether two identical plants will grow differently under soothing classical and loud hard rock music. Biblical scenes done in gouache against white or pastel backgrounds alternate with easy-to-achieve directives in white panels set against a background that look like green handmade paper. A final "potpourri" section deals with biblical laws and practices for a plethora of eco-friendly practices.
A credible, ethical approach to teaching environmental science and responsibility under a Judaic umbrella.(Religion. 5-9)