King Solomon and His Magic Ring

Elie Wiesel, Author, Mark H. Podwal, Illustrator Greenwillow Books $16.99 (56p) ISBN 978-0-688-16959-6
In a loosely spun collection of legends about King Solomon, Nobel laureate Wiesel adopts a friendly, conversational style--almost as if he were spending a Shabbat afternoon regaling children with snippets of tales from the Talmud and Midrash. The angel Michael brings Solomon the ring of the title: ""With it you will conquer all the demons of this world, and with their labor, you shall build the Temple of Jerusalem."" Anecdotes tell how the king travels on a flying carpet; trades quips with ants and birds; unwisely takes the Pharaoh's daughter as one of his 1000 wives; gets tricked by Ashmedai, the king of the demons; etc. The narrative is fluid, with one episode easily giving way to the next. However, some readers--particularly presiding adults unfamiliar with the roles of the Talmud and Midrash--may wish the author had provided more of a context for his storytelling than is offered in the minimal source notes at the end. Podwal, previously paired with Wiesel for A Passover Haggadah, adheres to his customary style, eschewing clearly narrative visuals in favor of a series of almost mythic images. If Wiesel's text evokes the atmosphere of his Carpathian boyhood, Podwal's palette hints of the South of France, and his carefully modulated abstractions are as striking in their embrace of the 20th century as is the text's pleasure in tradition. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1999
Release date: 08/01/1999
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