The Story of Queen Esther

Jenny Koralek, Author, Grizelda Holderness, Illustrator , illus. by Grizelda Holderness. Eerdmans $17.50 (27p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5348-6

Koralek (The Coat of Many Colors ) and Holderness (When the World Began ) play a little fast and loose with the details of the Book of Esther: the reason for Esther's recruitment as a royal bride is omitted (no Vashti, the queen who is banished for refusing to dance for the drunken king); Ahasuerus, the clueless potentate, is transformed into a Persian hottie, complete with wavy hair and soulful, sensitive eyes (the center spread, with Esther and the king embracing, is worthy of a romance novel cover); and Esther has gained a devoted pet cheetah. More shockingly, Mordecai and Esther are shown praying on their knees, against Jewish tradition. But while the result is more fairy tale than kosher for Purim, Koralek's telling is admirably brisk and dramatic, and she keeps sight of the core message: that Esther's faith and sense of responsibility give her the courage to do the right thing. Holderness's saturated, jewel-tone pastels, geometric lines and subtle patterning successfully meld once-upon-a-time with an exotic Far East. She also gives Esther star-studded raven tresses that reach all the way down to her calves—which, as any female member of the target audience will attest, is totally awesome. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/19/2009
Release date: 01/01/2009
Genre: Children's
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