Drop by Drop: A Story of Rabbi Akiva

Jacqueline Jules, illus. by Yevgenia Nayberg. Kar-Ben, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5124-2090-6
The man who became Rabbi Akiva, a famous Jewish sage who lived during the first and second centuries C.E., started life as an illiterate shepherd. But his wife, Rachel, who married him despite her rich father’s objections, “knew that a man with such goodness in his heart, who understood so much about life, must be smart even if he did not know how to read or write.” Her unstinting love and encouragement leads to an epiphany: “My mind is not harder than a rock,” says the 40-year-old Akiva while resting by a brook. “I can learn—just like water cuts through stone—a little bit each day.” Nayberg (The Wren and the Sparrow) makes this old story feel fresh and immediate through her angular drawings, which are inventively composed and rendered in radiant, translucent colors reminiscent of stained glass. Jules (Feathers for Peacock) strives to make Rachel and Akiva co-heroes, though readers may find it hard to get excited about a character defined by support, sacrifice, and patience. But it’s easy to ally with Akiva’s struggles to master literacy, which includes a stint as the oldest pupil in an unruly local Hebrew School. Ages 4–9. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/19/2017
Release date: 08/01/2017
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-1-5124-2091-3
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