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Sarah Laughs
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Sarah Laughs

by Jacqueline Jules, Natascia Ugliano (Illustrator)

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This biblical story tells of the elderly Sarah who laughs in delight when she overhears three strangers tell her husband Abraham that he will soon become a father. When a son is born to her the following year she names him Isaac, which means laughter, and the world rejoices with her.


This biblical story tells of the elderly Sarah who laughs in delight when she overhears three strangers tell her husband Abraham that he will soon become a father. When a son is born to her the following year she names him Isaac, which means laughter, and the world rejoices with her.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Based on �midrash, modern biblical commentary and biblical texts,� the author has given Sarah, the wife of Abraham, a depth of personality not usually envisioned in accounts of Isaac�s parents. Presented with a rich vocabulary and thoughtful writing, we see Sarah as a young woman whose laugh gave joy to all who heard it. Facts are seamlessly interwoven into the storyline. For example, in describing Abraham as he and Sarah wed, the author writes: �Her husband was different from most of the people in their city. Abraham did not pray to idols. He worshipped one invisible God who was too powerful to be made into a simple statue of wood of stone.� We learn about how Abraham and Sarah taught other families to worship one God and to do good deeds. Once Abraham heard the voice of God telling him to move to a new place, Sarah helped him pack and leave their home. We learn about Sarah�s humanity as the author tells us of her worries but also shows us that she bravely followed Abraham, helping his people as they traveled. As they grew older, still childless, Sarah was saddened and her laughter was silenced, yet she continued to be a wonderful role model and wife. After three angels tell Abraham that he will indeed have a child who will father a nation of people (just as God had promised earlier) and Sarah gives birth to Isaac, she is able to laugh again. (Isaac, the book tells us, means �laughter�). The subtle illustrations are graceful in their echoes of the storyline and have a charm that reaches off the page to engage the reader. The colors and shapes are bright without being too bold or �modern�--they have a look that is suitable for a story from ages past. This is a gentle retelling of anold story. Dense with details and studded with life lessons, it avoids being didactic or too wordy. It will be a useful and well-read addition to any library. Reviewer: Sheilah Egan
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3- Through poetic language and sweeping illustrations, this picture book tells the story of the biblical patriarch and matriarch Abraham and Sarah from Sarah's point of view. From her early support of her husband's revolutionary monotheism and throughout their many journeys together, Sarah is portrayed as graceful, loving, and faithful. However, her sadness about remaining childless through the years has made her lose her bright laughter. With the birth of Isaac, when she is gray-haired and wrinkled, she finally laughs again "and the whole world clapped hands and laughed with her." The events of the story have been simplified, and the focus remains tightly on Sarah's feelings. While this version may be short on biblical detail and historical context, it does a beautiful job of exploring the emotions behind Sarah's actions. She is most often portrayed in storybooks as an old woman, and it's a pleasant change to see a pretty, bright-eyed young woman and her handsome husband. Ugliano skillfully ages the characters as the tale progresses, adding a sad patience to Sarah's expression that makes her joy in the final pages all the more compelling. This lovely retelling deserves a place on the shelves of any library that collects religious materials.-Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL

Kirkus Reviews
The beautiful and gentle Sarah married Abraham and joined him on his nomadic life where they led families through the desert, teaching a monotheistic faith in "a God who demanded kindness and good deeds." In Canaan, Abraham became a wealthy man, while the couple built a happy life together welcoming guests into their tent to share in their food and company. Even so, the absence of a child "smothered the laughter" in Sarah's heart. Selflessly, she encouraged her husband to father a child (Ishmael) with the servant Hagar in order to realize God's promise of an abundance of offspring. The author/illustrator team continues their Old Testament series with this midrash-inspired interpretation of the older Sarah's late entrance to parenthood with the joyful birth of her own son, Isaac. Mellifluous full-page spreads in tones of green and blue pastel/crayon media depict the lyrically told story of this Jewish matriarch who believed her childbearing years had passed. An accessible rendition of the ancient biblical text for young religiously oriented listeners. (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Bible Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.20(d)
AD640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Jules is the author of The Ziz and the Hanukkah Miracle, Noah and the Ziz, The Hardest Word, Once Upon a Shabbos, and Clap and Count, and is an elementary school librarian. Her award-winning poetry and prose has appeared in many magazines including Cricket, Cicada, and Highlights for Children. She has two grown sons and lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.

Natascia Ugliano has an art degree, as well as a diploma from the Fine Arts Academy of Brera, in Italy. She has illustrated several books including Storm Treasure by Anne Adeney and The Little Mermaid by H.C. Andersen (Anne Adeney version), both for Franklin Watts Publishing, London. She lives in Milan, Italy.

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