Jerusalem is the central character in this collection of five stories spanning four generations of the Genzel family, residents of the ancient city's Jewish quarter. Geras ( My Grandmother's Stories ) warmly chronicles the girlhoods of Pnina, her niece Daskeh and Daskeh's cousin Malka, in the period between 1910 and 1954. In the collection's first two tales, told from Pnina's point of view, Geras illuminates the magic of Jerusalem, with its narrow, cobbled streets, tradesmen's colorful shops and sun-burnished windows. The text is studded with details of Jewish family life, including Purim holiday rituals and the glowing lights and traditional foods of the Sabbath table. Commendably, Geras does not shy away from painful episodes in history: the book's two strongest stories--``Beyond the Cross Stitch Mountains'' and ``Dreams of Fire''--deal with Daskeh's terror during the 1948 War of Independence and the years following it. These chapters, along with Geras's earlier allusion to Russian pogroms, provide a valuable jumping-off point for further discussion. Only the book's rather conventional last story, in which Malka learns the value of true friendship, fails to match the texture and vigor of its predecessors. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993 Release date: 10/01/1993 Genre: Children's
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