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
Zalben�s original creation myth is inspired by a midrash from the 16th century, written by the rabbi who founded the mystical Judaic teachings of Kabbalah. It is the last in her trilogy of picture books about peace created after September 11, 2001 changed her way of working. When Zalben�s Creator makes the world and all the creatures in it, He wants to paint it with a special light, light so powerful that it is stored in a jar. When the jar cracks open, the Creator sends People to find the pieces to make the world �complete and perfect.� As we all search, we hope that some day �the world will be one.� The brief lines of text are set in a very large, very bold type face, the loud voice of which seems to demand our attention to the spiritual, hopeful message. Double-page scenes depict youngsters, the �people� of the text, seeking the shards of light along with some creatures and plants. In her �Art Notes,� Zalben takes a page to describe the vast assortment of materials she used to create the textured scenes of rosy mists, multicolored triangular shards, and the back end-papers of a girl holding a kite-like string of bits of different colors. Another note fills in information on the inspiration for the tale and her hope that �everyone has the power to repair one small piece of a broken world--and make it whole.� Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Gr 1-4Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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