Marzollo, perhaps best known as the author of the I Spy books, debuts as an illustrator in the first of a planned eight-book Bible Story series, and her art has a quick-flowing, pleasing energy. Her storytelling plays to a young crowd. Daniel's envious co-workers say, "What gives him the right to be the boss of us?" and "Not fair!" and later persuade the king with the simplest flattery ("Oh, King Darius you are so-o-o great and so-o-o grand and so-o-o wonderful!"). Below the action, in a thin border, a line of ants (in Miriam the border is populated by fish) offer more thoughtful commentary: as the king is tricked into ordering Daniel to be thrown into the lions' den, the ants' discussion includes "What if kings make bad laws?"-"That's a big problem." Miriam brings girl power to the banks of the Nile, enhancing the heroine's already strong role in the saving of Moses and reminding readers that the pharaoh's daughter played a big role, too. Miriam also sings songs, which readers can join, to the tune of either "Hava Negila" or "You Are My Sunshine." While Marzollo doesn't always build a visual pace, she creates distinctive moments, as in the appearance of the angel in the den, a figure of surprising grace among three semi-comic but mostly scary roaring lions. Solid through and through. Ages 4-8. (Feb.) FYI: The third in the series, David and Goliath ($15.95 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-316-74138-8), is due in April. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
PreS-Gr 4-Marzollo has taken the biblical stories of Daniel and Miriam and made them appealing to a broad age range. Brief introductions present the characters and set the scene for each tale. The narratives are lively, interesting, and easy to understand. Chatty little ants (Daniel) or fish (Miriam) appear at the bottom of each page. Their funny and clever comments are instructive and thought-provoking and also add a bit of whimsy to the subject matter. Painted in watercolors and scanned and finished in Adobe Photoshop, the joyful and childlike illustrations are full of movement and color. Everything about these books is professional and carefully thought out, from the interesting endpapers to the background-rich dedication pages. Two valuable and meaningful offerings.-Sandra Kitain, Abrams Hebrew Academy, Yardley, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.